This year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) theme is #BalanceforBetter. The theme recognises that balance is better for everyone and is not simply a women’s issue. Gender balance matters to our economies and our communities and we have a collective responsibility to accelerate our progress.
Sadly, despite a number of initiatives across the transport sector, the latest figures indicate that the percentage of women working in transport in the UK has decreased slightly falling below the EU average of 22%.
On a recent visit to Malaysia, Past President of Women in Transport, Camilla Ween commented:
“We are still battling for gender parity - sit in most transport or urban development projects and look around - a good meeting will have only 40% women.
Working in Malaysia recently, not only did we have diversity (Islamic, Chinese, Hindu, Christian ethic origins) but there were also many women - and this never felt strange. One day, I looked around the table and realised we were 100% women. It was the most pleasant, most relaxed and easy working environment I have ever worked in. It was really pleasurable and positive.
Why are we so slow in UK to get onboard with this issue?”
The DfT’s Infrastructure Skills Strategy clearly set out the imperative to change the perception of the transport industry to attract more women into the workforce. A new study published this month by the Mineta Transportation Institute entitled ‘Attracting and Retaining Women in the Transportation Industry’ further enforced this point with a particular focus on the role of inclusive workplace culture:
“The culture and the perception of the culture of an organization is the most important consideration when focusing on attracting a diverse talented workforce. Culture is not a policy, a sign on the wall, or an acceptance letter signed when hired. Culture is the implementation of the policies that are in place, with deliberate focus on the consequences of each action and decision.”
Have you seen the new Dreamworks short ‘Purl’? It’s a clever and humorous illustration of the consequences of toxic work cultures. Watch the full animation to see the value an inclusive culture that encourages everyone to bring their whole selves to the workplace can provide.
The first IWD was held in 1911, supported by over a million people. Today, IWD is shared by organisations globally; it’s not about one day, activities related to each year’s theme run throughout the year.
So this year, what will you or your organisation be doing for #BalanceforBetter? Tweet us @transportwm to share your stories and initiatives to promote gender balance in transport to benefit everyone.