New Women in Transport report unveils shocking gender inequality in the transport sector

A new report – sponsored by leading welfare maritime charity the Merchant Navy Welfare Board (MNWB) – reveals the realities women face and calls for urgent action to break down systemic barriers and forge a path towards a truly inclusive and equitable industry.

Findings from the Women in Transport Equity Index 2023 Report*, which lays bare the gender disparities within the UK transport sector, were unveiled yesterday (March 11) at a launch event in London.

This groundbreaking survey, the first of its kind in the world for the transport sector, examined workforce composition, leadership diversity, gender pay gap and career development.

Overall, those organisations that took advantage and undertook the complete WORK180 survey, when combined, achieved an overall rating of 50%**, revealing a stark reality that demands industry-wide transformation.

This places the sector just into the ‘progressing’ range from foundational. The industry has much work to do to reach the 80% pace-setting range. The generated scores are based on the responses provided in the DEI assessment, broken down across the 10 key workplace equity standards.

The 2023 Index findings are an urgent call for change:

  • A mere 23% of the workforce identifies as women and more than half of the 23% are in non-transport roles.
  • Shockingly, 58% of organisations admit to a gender pay gap of 11% or more, surpassing the national average.
  • A staggering 54% of organisations lack formal targets, commitments, or quotas for gender diversity.
  • 59% offer no support to primary carers in the form of paid parental leave.
  • While 94% of organisations claim to be open to discussing flexible working arrangements, the reality for women remains far from ideal.
  • 88% offer flexible start and finish times, but this alone falls short of addressing the deep-rooted gender disparities.

Ruth Cadbury MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Women in Transport, said:

“It’s fair to say that the transport sector has a very male-dominated workforce, and that needs to change both for those working in the sector and those who use it. The Equity Index is an important tool in that journey, as we will only know success if we can measure it. I, therefore, welcome the launch of this report and its recommendations.”

Sonya Byers, CEO of Women in Transport which is a is a not-for-profit organisation that empowers women in the industry to maximise their potential, said:

“Our report is a wake-up call. The UK transport sector needs urgent and drastic changes to become a beacon of gender equity. It’s time for the sector to move beyond lip service and embrace transformative actions for a fair and inclusive future. This can only be achieved through cross-sector collaboration.”

Sue Terpilowski, OBE Lead for Index, added:

“The Women in Transport Equity Index exposes the uncomfortable truths the industry is facing. It’s not just a report; it’s a call to arms. We cannot allow gender inequality to persist in a sector pivotal to our nation’s growth and economy.”

Recommendations for Immediate Action:

  • Scrutinise and rectify the glaring gender pay gaps within their structures.
  • Smash through the glass ceiling by implementing radical, impactful measures for internal promotions.
  • Champion industry-wide initiatives to empower women into leadership positions.
  • Overhaul policies surrounding paid parental leave, a fundamental right denied to a significant portion of the workforce.
  • Tear down the façade of flexibility and reshape it to meet the actual needs of women in the sector.

Unveiling the unseen, unspoken, and unsettling, this report doesn’t mince words. It’s a stark call to action. The Women in Transport Equity Index 2023 lays bare the harsh truths that have long been ignored. It’s a wake-up call for a sector that needs to do much more on gender equality.

At the forefront of its revelations is a pressing call for the UK to reelevate its focus on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations within the transport sector. As the sector grapples with gender inequality, it is imperative to integrate ESG principles to drive sustainable and ethical practices.

MNWB, the umbrella charity for the UK Merchant Navy and fishing fleets, was among several sponsors of the report.

Top Achievers for the 2023 Index

Top Organisation: Southeastern Railway

Highly Commended: Govia Thameslink Railway, Nuclear Transport Solutions, London North Eastern Railway and Northern Trains.

Sector top achievers:

Bus and Coach: Lothian Buses

Consultant: Turner and Townsend

Cycling: Brompton Bicycles

Logistics: Road Haulage Association

Maritime Joint: Nuclear Transport Solutions and Port of Dover

Rail: London North Eastern Railway

Download the report HERE


*The Equity Index survey was undertaken by our partner, Work180.

** The combined aggregated core of the companies was 50%. This equates to the foundational level of Work180’s gender equity scale, indicating significant room for improvement and is only marginally above the baseline rating by 1%.