Engineering, Workforce, Certification & Training

New mentoring program aims to keep women engineers in transport

Business woman. Photo: Ingram Publishing

Transport for Victoria and the Level Crossing Removal Authority is partnering with 20 government and industry organisations to support and mentor female engineers across the transport sector.

The recently launched Women in Transport Mentoring Program will pair 58 female participants with experienced engineers in the industry.

The mentors will meet monthly with their mentees to guide them in identifying and realising their professional goals.

Funding for the program is coming out of the Victorian Government’s $1.1 million Women in Transport (WiT) Program.

The percentage of female engineers employed in the transport sector has grown from 8.2% in 2006 to 9.7% in 2011, while the currently females make up 16% of the workforce across the industry. The aim of the new program is to continue to boost these figures by helping to retain female engineers in the industry, and thereby contribute to he WiT aim of achieving a 25% female workforce by 2020.

Michelle Griffin, director of People, Culture and Organisational Development at the Level Crossing Removal Authority (LXRA), said she saw the mentoring program as an opportunity to “make a difference” in attracting and retaining women to work in transport.

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

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

21 mentee and 18 mentor organisations are partnering with the program, with 59% of the former being directly involved in the transport industry. The mentoring organisations are evenly divided between government and private industry.

Some of the organisations involved include the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority, Public Transport Victoria, VicTrack, the North East Link Authority, IRE Interface Rail Engineering, John Holland, CPB Contractors, and Laing O’Rourke.

Sarah McDermott, a senior project manager with the Level Crossing Removal Authority, said it was a “fantastic opportunity” to be taking part in the program as both a mentor and mentee.

“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,” McDermott said.

“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.”