Inspiration begins at home say Network Rail workers on International Women in Engineering Day

When it comes to inspiring girls to get into engineering, there is no place like home, according to Network Rail’s female employees.

A poll of the company’s female workers has revealed that their closest male relations – dads and granddads – had most inspired and influenced their life choices, helping to counter the perception that “engineering is not for girls”.

They cited a range of inspirations, from impressive structures like the US Treasury building to controversial public figures such as Malcom X, but their interaction with their close family members had proved most influential.

More than half said it was either their father or granddad who had given them the inspiration and encouragement in their young lives that influenced their later career choice.

International Women in Engineering Day, organised by the Women’s Engineering Society, is intended to raise the profile and achievements of females in the industry, and this year is held on Friday 23 June.

All over the country, Network Rail’s female engineers are sharing their passion for the railway with girls and young women, and encouraging them to consider engineering as a career path, challenging the outdated perception that engineering is not a career choice for young women.

Creative purpose

As a young girl I always helped my dad fix things and as I got older my interest and curiosity in how things were made grew.


I loved making things, the sense of creating something. Now I love seeing a design evolve into a space that people will use and enjoy. It’s a real sense of pride that I’ve played a part in such a big infrastructure project.

Tina Cleland (pictured above), a senior programme engineer on the Thameslink Programme, part of the team undertaking the redevelopment of London Bridge station

Designing for everyone

My dad was a highways engineer and I remember him saying as he drove us all along a road, ‘I designed this.’ I remember thinking how cool it was to have ownership of something which people use every day.

Louise Bungay (pictured above), an asset engineer in Cardiff looking after infrastructure that supports the railway line on the Wales route, such as bridges, walls and tunnels


Be who you want to be

My granddad taught me that you can be whatever you want to be regardless of religion, race or gender and showed me that you can still be strong while having the capacity for kindness and compassion.

Loraine Warner, a senior signalling project engineer based in Birmingham

Interested in joining us?

Network Rail is committed to attracting a more diverse workforce and increasing the number of women in its workforce, especially in engineering roles.

Rail is vital to Britain’s economic growth and Network Rail is transforming and modernising the railway as part of its Railway Upgrade Plan, to make a bigger and better railway for passengers. There is a huge amount of work involved, which provides a wealth of opportunities for women who want to embark on a career in engineering.

Addressing the gender balance issue in engineering has to be part of the solution to the skills crisis we are facing as an industry.


We need to capture the imagination of young girls (and boys!) so that they aspire to be the next generation of engineers – solving society’s greatest challenges by doing the coolest job in the world!


Having more diverse teams will also make us better at finding the solutions to our increasingly complex problems; having a mixture of skills sets in these problem-solving situations is key.

Helen Samuels, Network Rail’s engineering director, whose role is to lead the 2,000 engineers in the projects team to deliver a five-year, £25bn investment in new infrastructure

Find out more about careers with Network Rail


Picture (top): Becky Lumlock (third from left), route managing director of Wessex route, hosted Department for Transport Minister of State John Hayes MP at Waterloo station on Thursday 22 June to meet female engineers working at Network Rail to mark International Women in Engineering Day.
During an informal discussion with the Minister, the engineers talked about their jobs, what made them want to be an engineer and shared thoughts on what could be done generally to encourage more females to pursue engineering.