Workforce Analytics: Women In Rail

The impact of COVID-19 on the female workforce in the UK
Women in rail

NSAR undertook research on diversity in the UK rail industry, on behalf of Women in Rail.



Women in Rail is a membership organisation created to improve diversity in the UK rail industry.


Women in Rail set a target for the industry to increase the proportion of women to 20% by 2020, as well as increase the number of minority ethnic groups in apprenticeships. They tasked NSAR with investigating the industry’s progress in achieving those targets.

Our Process

NSAR and Women in Rail carried out a survey with 12 questions that covered key aspects of the workforce – such as size, gender split, regional breakdown, ethnicity, etcetera. Responses amounted to a sample size of 117,130 and were analysed and cross-referenced with NSAR’s own industry workforce data, as well as national data from the ONS.


The research identified that 30.2% of the industry workforce were women, higher than previously thought. Of the female workforce, 37.5% were in senior and managerial positions – a figure in line with the male workforce. The gender split of the workforce across various disciplines was also identified, as well as on-site experience among men and women.

The research also showed that 26.8% of rail employees self-identified as ‘other-than-white’, compared to 14.9% in the wider UK employment figures. Regionally, London was the most ethnically diverse and the female workforce in rail was collectively more diverse than the male workforce in terms of religion and ethnicity.

Recommendations were identified to ensure the continued improvement of diversity in the rail industry. A refresh of the data was also recommended by NSAR, as a few regions were unintentionally under or overrepresented.

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