Men must ‘speak out and speak up’ for gender balance in Scottish transport

It's time to address the gender imbalance within the transport sector, a think tank has urged. Picture: PA Photo

Men working in the traditionally male-dominated transport sector must “speak out and speak up” to promote gender balance, a think tank urged today.

The report, published to coincide with International Women’s Day, comes as only 20 per cent of transport workers are female and just 6 per cent of the heads of transport among Scottish public sector bodies are women.

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Compiled for the Scottish Transport Studies Group (STSG) by public policy specialist George Eckton, it said: “Success will be achieved if everyone is an ally for greater diversity, but especially men in terms of gender diversity.

“Men in the transport industry need to speak out and speak up.

“If half the passengers you serve as an industry cannot easily get on board and the other half of your population are simply passengers in the diversity debate, we won’t achieve sustainable mobility let alone diversity in transport.”

STSG chair John Yellowlees said: “We are proud to echo George’s call that we ‘need to get more of the transport sector on the diversity journey’.”

Research by EasyJet, Scotland’s biggest airline, published yesterday showed children’s ideas for future careers are still based on a gender divide that hasn’t changed since their parents were young.

It found half of boys would contemplate becoming a pilot compared to only just over a quarter of girls.

A total of 95 per cent of pilots are male, but EasyJet said it was on target for women to account for 20 per cent of its new trainee pilots by next year.

Chris Browne, the airline’s chief operating officer, said it wanted the gender mix of its staff to mirror its passengers’.

She said: “We want our people to reflect the diversity of the customers we fly and the communities in which we operate – we think this makes good business sense, will ensure we have the right people and is the right thing to do.”

Scotland’s only female airport fire manager today urged more women to become firefighters.

Andrea Macdonald, one of four female firefighters at Inverness Airport, said: “I like to think gender is less significant now and mindsets are changing.”

Ms Macdonald, from Golspie, said: “We have a chance to encourage women to consider roles that are typically male-dominated occupations and balance the male-female ratio”. Fewer than 10 per cent of UK firefighters are women.

ScotRail, one of Scotland’s biggest transport firms, has 5,000 staff but only 20 per cent are female and just 5 per cent of its train drivers are women.

A ScotRail spokesperson said: “The railway industry has historically been very male dominated, particularly in engineering and operations roles.

“We’re working very hard to change that by encouraging more females to consider a career with us through our graduate and modern apprentice schemes.”

Half of ScotRail’s newest engineering apprentices are women, while Syeda Ghufran became its first engineering director last year.

The Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency said: “We have raised the gender imbalance that exists, particularly in relation to female train drivers.”

The agency said it promoted careers in roads to women and girls, through projects such as the Queensferry Crossing and dualling the A9.

A spokesperson said: “Nearly one in three of our major project engineers are female and we’re committed to ensuring girls and young women are encouraged and inspired to join them. Being able to identify with a growing number of female role models already working on some of Scotland’s biggest infrastructure projects is clearly an important part of this.”