Major players in the transport sector have backed a campaign to encourage more women into engineering roles to mark National Women in Engineering Day on Thursday.
To help 'embed a change in culture in the highways and transportation industry’, the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation (CIHT) has launched a Diversity and Inclusion Charter. CIHT said 30 organisations have signed up, while ‘many more are in the process of doing so’.
In the UK, only 9% of the engineering workforce are women.
Signatories pledge to strive for best practice in recruitment, retention and career progression and support diversity and inclusion by collecting and sharing examples of practical activities that contribute to progress.
Chief executive Sue Percy said: ‘As an institution that is committed to valuing and respecting the diversity of individuals we are very pleased to be launching the Diversity and Inclusion Charter.
‘We are a committed supporter of National Women in Engineering Day and this great initiative is the perfect opportunity to launch our own charter.
'Through this and other initiatives we will continue to encourage and support people of all ages and backgrounds to join both CIHT and the engineering profession.’
In Manchester, a group of female students from Trafford College visited Metrolink’s Trafford tram depot and were given a special tour of the facility and the chance to meet and question senior female engineers.
Transport for Greater Manchester head of rail Amanda White said: ‘This was a very positive event and I’m confident that we were able to inspire, inform and enthuse our guests through a balance of information and practical demonstration.
‘I think NWED is an excellent campaign that not only aims to dispel the myth that there are limited opportunities for women in engineering, but also show that it is an industry that can offer a wide variety of interesting careers.’
The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) also spoke out in support of the initiative.
Director of membership Seán Harris said: ‘Civilisation stands on the shoulders of the civil engineers who build our cities, deliver sanitation and connect people across the globe, and it is vital that we inspire and recruit the next generation of engineers.
‘To do this, we must present ourselves as inclusive and diverse. UK engineering lags behind much of Europe in terms of a gender-balanced workforce, and employers risk becoming increasingly marginalised if they ignore the benefits of attracting more women into the profession.’
Earlier this week infrastructure firm AECOM called for ‘positive action – but not positive discrimination’ to address a significant and growing gender imbalance at apprenticeship level in the engineering industry.