Why do we “need” more women to be engineers, train drivers etc., but we don’t “need” more men to be teachers, psychologists etc.? It’s a mystery, all right. A piece in today’s Telegraph:
Just one per cent of women wanted to be train drivers when they grew up, survey finds
A rail company plans to target women with Facebook adverts showcasing female drivers in a bid to encourage others to take up the profession.
It comes after a survey carried out by London North Eastern Railway (LNER) found just one per cent of women had wanted to be a train driver when they were young, versus 23 per cent who wanted to be a teacher.
The research also showed women were put off from other stereotypically male dominated roles, with two per cent wanting to be a mechanic and five per cent a pilot.
The company has pledged to “shift the dial” on societal attitudes towards women pursuing careers in the rail industry, particularly in driver roles, and set out to more than double the number of female applicants in five years.
In 2017 just seven per cent of applicants for driver roles at LNER were women, this increased to 17 per cent in 2020. Now they’re aiming for 40 per cent to be women by 2025.
To achieve this the company will appeal to women and BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) candidates in specific locations where jobs are available using targeted Facebook advertising.
The hope is “as many potential female candidates as possible” will see the adverts, a spokesman told The Telegraph.
Additionally, current female train drivers at the company will be put “front and centre” of its advertising campaigns.
Working alongside the Train Driver Academy they aim to “showcase” female drivers to potential recruits, so that those who show interest can see themselves already in the role, the spokesman added.
Karen Lewis, LNER’s people director, said the research was “proof that the rail industry needs to do more to show women the fantastic career opportunities it can hold”.
“Our research shows that the biggest barrier for women joining the rail industry is lack of awareness of the career opportunities it offers. There are so many different career paths open to women in the rail industry, which means many are simply missing out,” she said.
Experts have questioned what may be holding women back, or deterring young girls, from pursuing careers in the industry.
Research carried out by the charity Education and Employers in 2018 found gender stereotyping in future careers began as young as seven.
More than four times the number of boys wanted to become engineers (civil, mechanical, electrical) compared to girls, the study found.
While the idea of “nurturing” may also impact the number of girls wanting to become teachers compared to boys, the authors said, as nearly nine times as many girls wanted to become one.
“For International Women’s Day this year, we want to show that a career as a Train Driver is one to consider, because a lot of little girls don’t think about driving trains when they are younger and as they grow up,” Ms Lewis said.
“We are passionate about raising awareness and hope to inspire younger people, especially girls, by showcasing the opportunities on offer and showing how rewarding and flexible the job can be.”
LNER has set out a “roadmap” to encourage more women into rail and reduce the gender pay gap in the industry.
“We are working with schools, supporting training programmes and creating opportunities through work placements and apprenticeships as we work to create a diverse and inclusive workforce, representative of the communities we serve,” Ms Lewis added.
Becky Brown, who has been driving trains for almost 10 years, said she gets “surprised looks” when people ask what she does for a living, or see her driving the train into the station.
But her chosen career path has now inspired her eight-year-old daughter Maisie to follow in her footsteps.
“I love hearing from my daughter that she too wants to be a driver, as it’s such a unique career path,” Ms Brown said.
“It allows me to be flexible and spend more time with my family than I might do in a 9-5 role.”
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