As the industry strives to attract professional people – particularly women – to pursue careers on the railway, Crossrail has been singled out for special praise in this area by transport supremo, Claire Perry MP. An enthusiastic Perry quipped, ‘Often when I tell people that Crossrail is being dug by Sophie, Jessica, Ada, Victoria, Elizabeth, Mary Ellie and Phyllis, they are impressed that we’ve managed to find some female construction workers!’
Perry was speaking of the TBMs (tunnel boring machines) at the ‘Women Delivering Crossrail’ event in the House of Commons. ‘Yet standing behind those machines, and throughout Crossrail’s 45 construction sites, are thousands of women designing, building and fitting out this great railway. In every way, Crossrail is breaking new ground.’
FEMALE TALENT UNDERUSED
Women make up nearly a third of the workforce on Crossrail – the largest construction project in Europe. By comparison, across the construction industry, just 11 per cent of employees are women, including those in office-based roles, and only 6 per cent of engineers are female.
The fault lies in past prejudice and a simple lack of recognition of this great resource available to industry. She continued, ‘Whether it was the ‘closed shop’ policies used by the unions to protect male jobs, or the prejudice that says women don’t have what it takes for demanding work, female talent has been underused. Change cannot come too soon.’
Also present were Karen Boswell, managing director, Hitachi Rail Europe, and Alison Munro, managing director, development, HS2 Ltd.
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan joined them and serving members of the Crossrail team, including Valerie Todd, talent and resources director; Linda Miller, project manager; Rebecca Hughes, apprentice site engineer; and Dinesh Hansla, graduate engineer.
AMBASSADORS FROM CROSSRAIL
Outreach to women and youth is important says Perry. ‘Under the Young Crossrail programme, ambassadors from Crossrail – of whom over half are women – have visited schools and careers events to promote careers in engineering, construction and railway infrastructure, and to influence exam choices leading to careers in these fields.’ great railway.
Crossrail has worked hard to key itself into the local community, tapping into a wealth of hitherto unrealised talent. ‘Crossrail has also offered work experience, and supported contractors on their own school engagement work. In total, 277 schools, colleges and universities and over 36,000 young people, parents and teachers have been directly engaged by Crossrail.’
‘It doesn’t stop there – all of us need to do more,’ says Crossrail chairman Terry Morgan. ‘All of us, from teachers and parents to chief executives and industry leaders, need to do more to help women make the most of the exciting career opportunities on offer.’
The event formed part of the ‘100 years of Women in Transport’ campaign – supported by TfL, Network Rail, the Women’s Transportation Seminar and Women’s Engineering Society.