Smart Transport

Government urged to tackle transport industry’s ‘macho culture’

Gender perceptions and experiences working in transport2021 cover

A cross-party group of MPs and Peers is calling on the Government, and the transport industry, to challenge ‘macho’ behaviours within the profession, as new research reveals the extent of the problem.

The survey by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Women in Transport and industry group Women in Transport found that more than two-thirds (69%) of women feel the transport industry has a ‘macho culture’, while 70% of women perceive the industry to have an ‘image problem’.

Alarmingly, 70% of the women surveyed said they had experienced discriminatory behaviour or language (this included derogatory or sexist remarks, jokes or statements targeted at them).

Despite the negatives experiences, 83% of the women surveyed were ‘overwhelmingly proud’ to work in the transport sector, and 85% were likely to recommend a transport career to other women.

The survey, which 567 transport industry professionals participated in, also highlighted statistically significant differences in women’s and men’s perceptions of gender issues while working in transport, with more women feeling they had experienced discriminatory behaviour than men feeling they had witnessed it.

MP Ruth Cadbury, chair of the APPG for Women in Transport, said that she was “shocked” but “not surprised” by the negative findings “as this is what we have been hearing anecdotally for many years”.

She said: “Our report provides a stark warning that we are not doing enough and unless we challenge what can be seen as macho culture, the transport sector will miss out on exceptional talent.

“I am hopeful this new research will ignite positive change for the industry and will make the transport sector a more diverse and an inclusive place to work.”

Chair of the Transport Select Committee, Huw Merriman MP, pledged support for change.

He said: “The Transport sector has always been the engine for ideas, innovation and change. From the challenges of the pandemic to delivering decarbonisation, we need new transport pioneers more than ever. The sector needs to reflect the country at large. Barriers to entry need to be knocked down.

“We must reflect the range and expertise which women bring to the transport sector to deliver this change. Our committee will join with you to deliver it.”

Make diversity central to policymaking

The Government must now commit to making the importance of greater diversity central to policymaking on how the transport industry can support a safe, greener recovery from Covid-19, according to the APPG for Women in Transport and Women in Transport.

It is also calling on the Government to profile and celebrate the diverse range of people within the transport sector, who have kept the network going during the Covid-19 pandemic, building on the #transportheroes campaign.

It wants to see employers in the transport sector:

  • Provide clarity about their flexible working policies post Covid-19 and build it into industry culture going forward.
  • Establish gender inclusive recruitment and retainment practices, such as inclusive job descriptions, removing personal details from CVs, and diverse interview panels.
  • Resource gender equality staff networks to support women and non-binary people.
  • Establish reverse mentoring programmes to pair male senior leaders with women in more junior roles to enable better understanding of women's experiences.

Women in Transport said that among the steps it will be taking is to develop and deliver a leadership programme to support women leaders.

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