Women in Road Rail and Transport Infrastructure concept

Women’s participation in the rail, roads and transport infrastructure industries is down, worsening the gender gap in an already male-dominated sector. But growth is surging, with $200 billion of work in the pipeline. So is the glass half-empty or half-full?

Career progression can often feel like a commute on a bad day: bumper-to-bumper congestion making you feel like you’re going nowhere, unexpected delays, cancelled flights and breakdowns.

In the same way that setbacks are part of everyday life, your career will inevitably throw you a curveball or two that can leave you feeling powerless against external forces.

This rings especially true for women in the rail, roads and transport infrastructure industries. Structural, social, and economic challenges are putting a strain on the attraction and retention of female talent, worsening the industry gender gap.

In the construction industry – Australia’s most male-dominated sector – males occupy 97 per cent of CEO positions, while women’s participation has decreased 5 per cent since 2006.

The transport sector is no more encouraging, with women making up less than 17 per cent of transport roles and only 4.5 per cent of leadership positions.

Looking at the industry through the lens of women’s leadership, it’s easy to see the glass half-empty. But on a holistic scale, these industries are ripe with opportunity – and it’s yours for the taking.

With over $123 billion of work commencing since 2015 – and another $200 billion in the pipeline – the rail, roads and transport infrastructure industries are experiencing a surge in growth.

But Infrastructure Australia’s Chief Executive Officer, Romilly Madew, says this doesn’t mean business as usual. As climate change, population growth and rapid technological advancements create uncertainty toward the future, the industry must now make significant investments in research and development to create a sustainable and rewarding future.

Turning obstacles into opportunities

To achieve this, we need to flip the narrative and realise that women are key to unlocking a competitively viable future.

We know why this is the case – a diverse workforce and executive team are known to create tangible economic benefits, including boosted profitability, better problem-solving and accelerated innovation.

What we need to focus on is how. How can women raise their profile to add strategic value? How organisations can embrace a diverse workforce to tackle the issues facing the future?

Women in Road Rail and Transport Infrastructure concept

Understanding how other organisations and industries are working to improve gender parity is the first step. And to help lay the foundations for the future – Liquid Learning has centered its acclaimed 4th Women in Rail, Roads & Transport Infrastructure Leadership Summit around how others are leading the way forward.

Running this October in Melbourne, industry trailblazers and leading organisations are joining forces to shed light on how women can unlock their potential – and the potential of their organisation. 

With real-world insights from the likes of Metro Trains Melbourne, NRMA, Public Transport Victoria, Office of Projects Victoria, and John Holland, this experience is geared to provide practical takeaways for turning obstacles into opportunities. 

Emerging female leaders will learn essential skills for raising their profile and finding their voice in a male-dominated environment.

One of the speakers, Margy Osmond, Chief Executive for Tourism & Transport Forum, said this is critical for career progression: 

“Stepping outside your comfort zone willingly is really important. It is the jobs that might be a bit beyond you that I think to deliver the best experience and stretch you to have a go,” Ms Osmond said.

But it’s the flow-on effects of these strategies that make the event a worthwhile investment. Once women unlock their own potential, they can infuse these innovative, diverse practices throughout the organisation. 

If your bus breaks down or the trains stop running – life continues. But sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands. Strangely, but not surprisingly, it’s when life doesn’t go as planned that we push ourselves to find new solutions and make it to the other side not just unscathed, but more resilient to the unexpected.

This partner content is brought to you by Liquid Learning. To learn more about the 4th Women in Rail, Roads & Transport Infrastructure Leadership Summit, click hereInfrastructure subscribers are eligible for $500 off standard rate ticket prices (use booking code QA2). To redeem your discount and register, click here.

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