Network Rail works with Surrey school to increase take-up of female employees: Network Rail presenting to students at Ash Manor School in Surrey for International Women's Day 2017

Friday 10 Mar 2017

Network Rail works with Surrey school to increase take-up of female employees


Network Rail has kicked off its campaign to increase the number of females employed on Britain’s railways with an event at Ash Manor School in Surrey, which is designed to show teenage girls the enormous breadth of careers available in engineering and the wider railway industry.

  • Network Rail sets target of increasing female workforce to 20 percent by 2020
  • New engagement programme, ‘People Like Me’, launched to inspire young women to pursue careers in engineering

As one of Britain’s biggest employers, Network Rail recognises it has a role to play in inspiring future generations about careers in the engineering sector. The pipeline of female talent entering the sector is low, which WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) say is because 50,000 girls are turning away from an education in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) every year.

To coincide with National Apprenticeship Week (6-10 March) and International Women’s Day (8 March) Network Rail is working directly with schools to encourage more young people, women in particular, to consider STEM subjects and inspire them about the different types of careers available across the rail industry. The organisation has also set itself a new target to increase its take-up of female employees across the business to 20 percent by 2020.

Women from Network Rail spent the morning of International Women’s Day at schools around the country, including Ash Manor School in Surrey, launching a new engagement programme called ‘People Like Me’, to inspire young women to study STEM subjects and pursue a career in the railway industry.

A ‘People Like Me’ day incorporates a set of activities that enable students to understand their personal strengths and to relate them to the very broad range of roles that engineers do. Outdated stereotypes of roles on the railway and poor visibility of female role models give a restricted view of the industry, and therefore only captures the imaginations of a few. By showing how different personalities contribute in different roles, students are able to identify a role that genuinely appeals to them.

In Surrey, the day’s activities were held at Ash Manor School and run by Miriam MacLennan, route asset manager at Network Rail, Rajinder Pryor, business manager and Sophie Moeng, consultation manager.

Miriam said: “Society has an old-fashioned bias towards engineers being men in top hats or operating heavy construction machinery, however, civil engineering is so much more! We are the custodians of balancing natural resources and human demand. To do this well we need a better mix of people working as engineers who are skilled in, for example, communication, the art of persuasion or the desire to investigate and explore the realms of the unknown.

“The railway is growing at a spectacular rate and Network Rail is going to need many more engineers to shape and deliver its Railway Upgrade Plan. Great engineering relies enormously on creative thinking, a desire to collaborate and a thorough understanding of the problems. Diverse teams are essential in these situations.”

Rajinder, engagement lead for the digital railway, an industry plan to accelerate the digital modernisation of the railway, added: “Exploring digital railway technology to meet the capacity and performance challenge will require more than traditional engineering expertise.  With opportunities like the digital railway, now is a really exciting time to be considering a career in the railway so I hope we can continue to attract and incentivise future talent, including encouraging more women into the rail industry.”

Network Rail staff will be going into schools across the country to deliver educational sessions on careers in the STEM sector through March and April. The organisation is also looking to recruit 150 apprentices across the country.



To find out more information about careers at Network Rail, or to apply for one of our apprenticeships, please visit

Currently, 16% of Network Rail’s 37,000 strong workforce is female. We aim to increase this to 20 percent by 2020.

During National Apprenticeship Week and International Women’s Day there will be a series of events taking place across the country – please find details of these below.

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We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

Every day, there are more than 4.7 million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.

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