Achieving gender balance in the transport sector

It is highly documented that the transport sector is heavily male dominated. Indeed, reports suggest that while women account for 47% of the general UK workforce, within the transport sector women only account for 20% of the workforce and only 3% of HGV drivers in the UK.

Many employers are aware of the work that needs to be done in this sector in terms of addressing and challenging behaviours, changing mindsets and creating inclusive cultures. It is therefore encouraging to see the Automotive Council pledge that, within the next 6 years, the percentage of women within the workforce of its members will increase to a minimum of 30%.

Such a pledge will not, however, of itself, achieve true gender balance. It is true that other initiatives are being supported, including introducing board-level champions, eliminating bias in recruitment campaigns, and generally improving diversity and inclusion practices across the industry. However, these initiatives will not be enough without understanding and addressing the barriers that prevent women from applying for, or staying in, roles within this competitive sector.

Obstacles such as the requirement to work shift patterns and a lack of flexible working, a lack of overall support for women’s health issues and a perception of a ‘macho’ culture, will all contribute and need to be addressed and practices and policies changed. Alongside these measures, education about what the industry can offer is also key. Research based on girls and young women aged 14 to 24 found that 49% did not feel a senior leadership position within Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics was within their career reach in the future. Clearly, this needs to be a focus for the sector if true gender balance is to be achieved and it is positive that some employers have identified this and have started with outreach programmes to promote the industry to young people and in particular women.

Only with further promotion of the transport sector as a viable option for women, and the continuation and development of initiatives to overcome the barriers they face, will it be possible to achieve gender balance. How quickly this can be achieved is up to the sector’s employers and industry bodies.

The industry has often been perceived – and the facts back it up – as male dominated. We need to change this quickly; gender balance is not just about ‘doing the right thing’, it’s demonstrably good for business.


This information is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. Please contact us for specific advice on your circumstances. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.



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