As the first female apprentice at Govan Shipbuilders in the 1970s, Network Rail’s Janice Crawford walked into a traditionally “male” environment and kick-started a career that’s taken her around the world in heavy industries such as petrochemicals, oil and gas – and now railway building.
As regional director for Network Rail’s Infrastructure Projects division, Janice heads up a team of engineers and managers responsible for major railway upgrades across the south east, including the massive rebuilding of London Waterloo International and other projects. She is determined to encourage more women to join the railway industry and look outside the roles more traditionally associated with “women’s jobs.”
With apprenticeships still available in the South East, now is the perfect time to start a career on the railway.
“Why wouldn’t you want to join the railway?” asked Janice. “If you are looking for variety, for a well-paid job with good prospects – why wouldn’t you?
“Look at the training on offer, look at the careers we have. Your career here can be what you want it to be and there are so many transferable skills to other sectors too.
“I travelled all over the world, worked all over the place in different countries on many different projects and I’m lucky enough to be in a senior well-paid job because I took the opportunities that came to me.
“If I had stayed in traditional female jobs it is unlikely those opportunities would have been open to me.
Historically, the railway industry has been male-dominated and today only 16 per cent of Network Rail’s 35,000 workforce is female. The company has set itself the target of reaching 20 per cent by 2020.
One of the best ways in to working on the railway is through company’s award-winning advanced apprenticeship scheme, which is open in the South East with opportunities in: Ashford, Brighton, Crawley, Croydon, Gravesend, Orpington and Tonbridge.
Janice added: “Most people I came across in my career have been very helpful and just wanted to see me succeed.
“My advice to women now is to take the opportunities that come up. I was really pleased to see how many opportunities there are here in Network Rail. Even if you are on a path you set for yourself at school, you can come in on a traditional route and move across. If you are capable, that will be recognised and the opportunities are there.”