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By Humane Society International UK

Transport Industry Told To Tackle "Macho Culture" As 70% Of Women Report Discriminatory Behaviour

3 min read

A cross-party group of MPs have called on the government and transport industry leaders to crack down on "macho behaviours" in the sector.

The push is prompted by new research from the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Women in Transport and Industry group, Women in Transport, found 70% of women working in the sector believed it had an "image problem".

The survey, released to coincide with International Women's Day today, also found over two-thirds (69 per cent) of women felt the industry had a "macho culture" while 70% reported experiencing discriminatory behaviour or language, including sexist remarks or jokes, while at work.

The research, which surveyed both women and men working the sector, also found different perceptions of the level of discrimination, with more women saying they experienced those behaviours than men who instead felt they had only witnessed it.

Conservative MP Ruth Cabdbury, chair of the APPG, said: "I am shocked but not surprised at the research findings, as this is what we have been hearing anecdotally for many years.

"Our report provides a stark warning that we are not doing enough and unless we challenge what can be seen as macho culture, the transport sector will miss out on exceptional talent.

She added: "I am hopeful this new research will ignite positive change for the industry and will make the transport sector a more diverse and an inclusive place to work."

To tackle the problem, the group is urging the government to take further steps to profile and "celebrate" the diverse range of people working in the sector, and called for a commitment from ministers to develop a cross-industry 'Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Charter' similar to those already created for the rail and aviation industry.The groups also called on leading transport firms to provide clarity about flexible working arrangements and create new gender inclusive recruitment practices, including removing personal details from CVs and having more diverse interview panels.

Huw Merriman, the Conservative chair of the Transport Select Committee, said the industry and government "could not afford" to let the problem fo "unchallenged".

"The Transport sector has always been the engine for ideas, innovation and change," he said.

"From the challenges of the pandemic to delivering decarbonisation, we need new transport pioneers more than ever. The sector needs to reflect the country at large. Barriers to entry need to be knocked down,

"We must reflect the range and expertise which women bring to the transport sector to deliver this change. Our committee will join with you to deliver it.”

But despite the high rates of women experiencing discriminatory behaviour, a large majority (83%) still said they were proud to work in the sector, while 85% said they were likely to recommend a transport career to other women.

Katie Hulland, President of Women in Transport said: "I’m delighted we have been able to address a gap in knowledge by researching the perceptions and experiences of women in transport.

While our report highlights many challenges women working in the transport sector are currently facing, it is great to see most of the women we surveyed are proud to work in our industry.

She added: "We will continue to support our Women in Transport members with a range of professional development events and initiatives, including a new leadership development programme. 

"We would also welcome Government, parliamentarians and the transport industry working with us to deliver an industry wide campaign tackling the macho culture in transport."

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