'Not all engineers wear hard hats' - ScotRail drive to attract more women and ethnic minorities

Increasing the number of female and ethnic minority engineers in one of the most male-dominated industries was today made a priority by ScotRail.

ScotRail's former head of engineering projects Lynsey McCabe is now its production and performance manager. Picture: John Devlin
ScotRail's former head of engineering projects Lynsey McCabe is now its production and performance manager. Picture: John Devlin

The train operator is anxious to boost the 8 per cent of its engineers – one in 12 – who are women and under 1 per cent from the black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) community.

It used the Royal Academy of Engineering’s second annual UK-wide Engineering Day to back the campaign under the slogan “Not all engineers wear hard hats”.

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Syeda Ghufran was appointed as ScotRail’s first engineering director in 2018, eight years after joining as an engineering management trainee.

Part of ScotRail's campaign

Fellow trainee Lynsey McCabe became its head of engineering projects before being promoted to production and performance manager two years ago.

The firm has fewer than the British total of 12 per cent of engineers being women, and is far behind the 9 per cent figure for those from BAME backgrounds.

ScotRail plans to double its intake of engineering apprentices next year after being unable to take on any this year because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Managing director Alex Hynes has already launched an initiative to increase female apprentice levels across the company to 50 per cent.

It is striving for a gender balance that reflects that of its customers.

ScotRail said it had increased the number of female train drivers over the last three years by 39 per cent, but they still only account for fewer than 6 per cent of the total, while only about 0.5 per cent are from the BAME community.

The operator said it also increased the number of female conductors by 16 per cent over that period, and they now accounted for almost one quarter of the total, but just 1.5 per cent were from the BAME community.

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ScotRail equality, diversity and inclusion manager Karen Wallace said: “Historically, engineering has not been a sector that has attracted women or people from black, Asian or minority ethnic communities.

"At ScotRail, we are absolutely committed to changing that.

“The slogan ‘Not all engineers wear hard hats’ is designed to challenge the conceptions behind engineers.

"There are so many varied and exciting opportunities within ScotRail for engineering apprentices from all backgrounds.”

"There has never been a more exciting time to be an engineer.”

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