Why International Women in Engineering Day matters

As an inclusive employer, we’re proud to celebrate International Women in Engineering Day.

We promote gender diversity and inclusivity in engineering – and hope to inspire more girls and women to explore exciting careers on the railway.

Engineers make up a vital part of our workforce at Network Rail. But in 2021, the most recent data available, just 16.5% were women, according to a report published by Engineering UK in March 2022. However, this figure compares with 10.5% in 2010.

Emily Pollard, an asset engineer, with Blackfriars railway station behind her.

Dannielle Dickens, a project manager in the Diversity and Inclusion team at Network Rail, said: “Female engineers bring unique skills and perspectives. They contribute to designing inclusive transportation systems that consider the diverse needs and experiences of passengers. This improves accessibility, safety, and overall user experience.”

We partnered with the WISE Campaign to host a two-hour virtual event today for any women interested in a career in engineering.

The event will include a panel session with some of our female engineers, a networking break, and a career session led by two of our human resources colleagues.

Make safety seen

Make safety seen is this year’s theme. But what does it mean?

Magdalena Krusinowska, a senior engineer at Network Rail, said: “Make safety seen is not just about having the best protocols, procedures or policies, it’s a personal ability to be engaged and interested in our surroundings and environment.

“Only an inclusive environment, where individuals are encouraged and empowered to talk about their concerns, can make safety visible, felt and embedded. Safety is not just a task, it’s a personal and collective responsibility.”

A young girl sits beside a female signaller at a digital screen showing the signalling system.

A still from our 2020 International Women’s Day film, All Change

Sian Thomas, director of engineering and asset management at Network Rail, said: “Safety is something that must be experienced and felt, not just seen. Everyone needs to be able to share their views, perspectives and observations in a safe environment and not be afraid to raise concerns or where things don’t feel right.

“Our job as leaders is to create the environment in which this can be true as well as ensure we enable everyone to go home healthy, safe and well every day.”

Inspiring gender equality at Network Rail

Inspire is our employee network that chiefly aims to promote gender equality, particularly by supporting our female colleagues who make up just over 19% of our workforce.

Inspire has organised a virtual chat with Jenny Cooke, a programme engineering manager at Network Rail, next Thursday for engineering colleagues to learn about some of the support we offer to help engineers enhance their professional qualifications.

Vanessa Wragg, co-chair of Inspire and project manager at Network Rail, spoke about why today matters to her: “For me, the day is about proving and demonstrating that women have a space in a place that they have historically been excluded from.

“But also, it’s about acknowledging that we’re not there yet because we still don’t have full equality and equity. So, although it’s about celebrating how far we’ve come, it’s also about acknowledging that there’s still more to be done.”

One recent way Network Rail and Inspire have come together to support female employees, and female engineers in particular, has been by

enhancing the provision and availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) offered to female staff.

From this month, female colleagues have access to PPE that is better and more appropriately designed for women – a significant step in the right direction.

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