Promoting women's employment in rail

There are many good arguments to promote the employment of women in the rail sector:

  • It is a matter of equal opportunities.
  • The presence of more women at traditionally male-dominated workplaces often improves working conditions for both women and men.
  • Women bring talent to companies that should not be ignored in particular in times of demographic change.
  • An active equality policy increases the attractiveness of rail companies as employers.

The average share of women in the railway sector in Europe is about 20 %. This level is largely stagnant, with a slight increase since 2013, when the Social Partners in the rail sector (CER and ETF) decided to start publishing an annual report on the development of women’s employment in rail.

A better integration and participation of women in the rail sector is a priority for the ETF. The European Social Dialogue Committee (SSDC) for the railways is an important instrument to promote women’s employment in rail together with CER, our social partner on the employers’ side.

ETF and CER have carried out joint studies (Women in Rail – WIR), signed joint recommendations, published a good practice and implementation guide as well as annual reports on the development of women’s employment.

At a Social Dialogue plenary meeting in November 2018, we decided to enter into negotiations for an autonomous European agreement on women in rail. In November 2021, both parties signed the Women in Rail autonomous agreement aimed at promoting employment of women in the sector.

Our work on women’s employment in rail can be viewed below and the WiR Agreement – available in 24 languages – is available at your right.

Latest news about women in rail

Press Release May 18, 2021

Women in Rail – EU-level negotiations between social partners resume

Today, the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), representing employees, and the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER), representing railway sector employers, resumed negotiations at EU-level for a binding agreement aimed at promoting women’s employment in the sector.

News November 6, 2019

Celebrating 20 Years of Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee & looking forward

Railway social partners and the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) gathered with ETF for the annual plenary meeting of the Rail Sectoral Social Dialogue. Social partners negotiated their joint work programme for the next two years and agreed to focus on women’s employment and equal opportunities in the railway sector, ensuring railway safety in an open and competitive market, working and resting time rules, and employability in the light of digitalisation and automation.

News October 16, 2019

Rail social partners start negotiations on agreement to promote women’s employment

Women account for less than 20% of the railway workforce, a figure that is alarmingly below the 46% participation rate of women in the labour market. Railway companies and trade unions are convinced that the situation needs to change in order to avoid missing out on the valuable contribution of women, to promote diversity at the workplace, and eventually harmonise the railway sector’s image with the reality of the society in which rail customers live.

News July 5, 2019

It’s all on track for women in rail!

Social partners ETF and CER have given a green light for the start of negotiations on an autonomous agreement about women in rail. Meeting at the Rail Social Dialogue Steering Committee, the two organisations also discussed working conditions for mobile workers engaged in cross-border rail services.

Info December 29, 2018

Women in Rail Annual Reports

These annual reports offer a statistical view on women’s position in the rail sector, which is a unique tool in the transport sector in Europe. They also promote and monitor the implementation of the CER-ETF Joint Recommendations for a better representation and integration of women in the railway sector.

Publication May 29, 2012

DOs and DON’T DOs – a practical guide to promote women in the railway sector

We explore the main problems and current developments for women’s employment in the rail sector in the areas of recruiting, reconciliation of work and private life, career and equal pay and overall equality policies. We then suggest concrete actions to improve women’s employment. This guide will guide others and help avoid mistakes.