2 February 2018

The Women in transport logo

A push to see more women employed within the transport sector has inspired a ground-breaking initiative backed by more than 20 government and industry organisations.

The Women in Transport Mentoring Program, launched in January this year, will see 58 female participants from a diverse range of professional backgrounds paired with an experienced male or female mentor, who will help them to set and work towards their career goals.

A government-first initiative, the supportive outlet aims to attract and retain female engineers across the transport sector, with the percentage of female engineers employed growing from 8.2 per cent in 2006 to 9.7 per cent in 2011.

Michelle Griffin, who oversaw the creation of the program as director of People, Culture and Organisational Development at the Level Crossing Removal Authority (LXRA), said it was pleasing to see the 116 participants willing to give up their time and energy to “make a difference in this space”.

“What we’ve got over the course of a 12-month period are three structured development programs, which both parties can attend,” she said.

“Outside of that, it’s up to really the mentor and mentee to establish that relationship and decide what works for them.”

Led jointly by LXRA and Transport for Victoria following the WiT launch in March 2017, the Mentoring Program quickly snowballed to see 21 mentee and 18 mentor organisations involved in its pilot.

Inclusive of university and government participants, more than half – 59 per cent – of mentee organisations involved are directly from the industry, while there is an even 50/50 split between government and industry for organisations providing mentors.

LXRA senior project manager Sarah McDermott will be taking part in the inaugural mentoring program both as a mentor and mentee, hoping to use her extensive experience to offer guidance and assistance to those starting their careers.

“I think it’s a fantastic opportunity,” she said. “Anything that can actually support people within the workplace is always going to give benefits for everybody.

“I chose also to be a mentee as I’ve never really had a formal mentor and I feel that I can actually learn things, as well from hearing someone else’s perspective and viewpoint.

“The fact that it’s focusing on women in transport will hopefully help to encourage women to get into the transport sector, to retain them and then offer them the progression and career opportunities that they need and want.”

The concept stems from the Victorian Government’s $1.1 million Women in Transport (WiT) Program, which aims to ultimately increase the number of female employees in the sector from 16 per cent to 25 per cent by 2020.

It comprises of fifteen initiatives targeting different stages of a female professional’s career lifecycle: from influencing young women in their choice of career, through to those returning from maternity leave or transitioning to retirement.

For more information visit the Women in transport page.