THE AUSTRALASIAN Railway Association on Thursday (9 August) released its three-year Women in Rail strategy aimed at increasing female participation in the industry to help ensure its long-term sustainability.

ARA CEO Caroline Wilkie said while the industry has seen recent improvements in gender diversity, there is more work to do to attract, retain and develop women in rail.

“The ARA’s Women in Rail Strategy aims to support the continued increase in female representation in the industry. With a strong $154 billion pipeline of investment over the next 15 years, this is more important than ever to ensure a sustainable future for rail,” Ms Wilkie said.

“There are so many opportunities for women to build rich and rewarding careers in rail during this once-in-a-lifetime transformation of the industry.

“We want to attract the best and brightest talent by fostering an inclusive work environment and transform the industry to one where a Women in Rail strategy is no longer needed because inclusivity is ingrained.“

Female participation in the industry increased to 24% in 2021-22, up from 17% in 2014, according to ARA research.

The ARA’s Gender Diversity Report released last year found almost 90% of companies surveyed have formal policies or strategies in place that specifically support gender diversity and 14% set targets to increase female representation on their governing bodies.

However, at the current rate, it is projected to take until 2049 to achieve gender parity.

The Women in Rail Strategy outlines several initiatives from 2023-2026 based on the focus areas of industry knowledge, organisational impact, professional development and promoting women in rail.

The ARA will be sponsoring two senior women to participate in the Chief Executive Women Leaders Program, and four women to participate in the Women Rising online course.

ARA Women in Rail Committee chair and ARA Board director Rebecca Want said the ARA will continue to work closely with industry and government across the country to close the gender gap.

“It is well known that diversity in the workplace drives improved performance, innovation and better solutions. Our Women in Rail vision is for an inclusive and diverse industry without barriers, and one that is recognised as an employer of choice for women,” Ms Want said.

“We are committed to fostering equality of opportunity for women in the rail sector by empowering women at every level of industry.”