top of page

Tackling the gender gap in Britain’s transport industry

This week’s guest on the Lunch with Leon podcast is a real champion for much needed diversity and inclusion in our transport sector. Jo Field, Founder of JFG Communications and President of Women in Transport sits down with Leon to discuss the challenges women face in advancing in transport, and what can be done to close the gender diversity gap.

Jo heads up Women in Transport, a not-for-profit that empowers women in the industry to maximise their potential. With the stark reality that the female employment rate in the UK is 72.3 per cent, yet women only account for 26 per cent of workers in the transport sector, Women in Transport creates opportunities for members for networking and professional development, working across all transport modes.

However, the mission to get more women in transport doesn’t only fall on women’s shoulders, Jo explains.

“We have 125 volunteers across the country – I think it’s important to say that we are open to everyone. We are called Women in Transport, but we aren’t only about women. We won’t get anywhere with women alone, so we now have many men who are involved in championing our mission.”

Jo and Leon reminisce about their time working together at TfL, where significant progress has been made regarding diversity, although there is much more work to be done.  

“Organisations are starting to understand the business benefits of diversity. It’s not just a nice-to-have, it’s crucial in advancing the industry,” Jo says.

The retention rate for women in transport is significantly lower than most other industries, with Jo pointing out that many women leave transport for another career path before their mid thirties. Responding to Leon’s query about why this might be the case, Jo pointed to some fascinating recent research conducted by Women in Transport. With a lack of data on the experiences of women working in the transport industry, Women in Transport conducted a survey around transport professionals, both women and men.

“69% of the women surveyed felt the industry has a macho culture, 70% said it has an image problem, and 70% reported experiencing discrimination, sexist remarks, jokes or statements targeted at them,” Jo explains. “There were statistically significant differences between the perceptions of gender issues between women and men. This gap in perceptions is problematic given that most senior management positions are held by men, whose views of women's experiences differ from what women report experiencing.”

In order to help bridge this perception gap, Women in Transport is working tirelessly to partner with employers to improve gender diversity and increase the number of women in leadership roles.

“Employee engagement is key – listening to employees directly about what programs, practices and policies can be put in place is critical.” Jo offers insights into how employers can create diverse organisations: “Reverse mentoring, where senior people are mentored by more junior employees, is a really affective tool for engaging people at work.”


Go-Ahead, a leading bus company in the UK, is aiming to recruit 1,500 more women bus drivers by next year, moving towards an eventual 50/50 gender split. This initiative started by creating a women's network a year ago and asking the existing women drivers what policies or practices were needed to recruit more women drivers.


Leon and Jo go on to talk about the importance of small businesses implementing gender equality policies, how job applications can be discriminatory, how unconscious bias training can start to break down gender barriers, and many more important conversation points on the topic of gender and diversity.

Listen now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts:


bottom of page