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New gender diversity survey shows jump in female leaders in rail

Australasian Railway Association 2 mins read

The number of female leaders in rail continues to climb, particularly CEOs, with more women joining its ranks at nearly every level, according to gender diversity research released today by the industry’s peak body.


The Australasian Railway Association’s (ARA) Gender Diversity Data Report 2024, based on the Australian Government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) survey, showed 26 per cent of CEOs in rail were female in 2022-2023, up from 16 per cent in 2020-21.


The report, which surveyed about 220 rail organisations from April 2022 to April 2023, found female participation in the rail workforce overall has risen from 24 to 28 per cent in 2022-23.


ARA CEO Caroline Wilkie said while there had been some significant improvements in gender diversity in rail, there is still plenty of room for improvement.


“It is very encouraging to see more women enter the rail industry – and actually stay and climb the ranks – than in previous years. However, the industry and governments must do everything possible to attract more women to rail to plug a significant workforce gap and ensure we are able to deliver on the record $154 billion infrastructure investment in rail over the next 15 years,” Ms Wilkie said.


“The ARA is focused on improving gender diversity and inclusion in the rail industry because we know that having more women in our workplaces plays a vital role in the long-term sustainability of the industry and also leads to better outcomes and innovation.


“Our goal is for the rail industry to become an employer of choice for women and this latest research shows we are headed in the right direction.”


The freight sector had the greatest increases of female workers, with female participation increasing to 30 per cent of employees, up from 26 per cent in 2020-21.


The report found that overall 25 per cent of managerial positions were held by women, compared with a national average of 42 per cent, and 36 per cent of promotions went to females (an increase from 32 per cent in 2020-21, but still lower than the WGEA National Average of 47 per cent). 


There was on average 30 per cent female representation on governing bodies, up from 26 per cent in 2020-21 and a significant increase from 2018-19 (15 per cent).


Of those surveyed, 91 per cent of respondents had conducted a gender pay gap analysis within the past 24 months, up from 44 per cent since 2020-21. 


Key figures from the ARA 2022-23 Gender Diversity report:

  • 28% of the rail workforce are women (24% in 2020-21)
  • 33% of key management personnel are women (26% in 2020-21)
  • 26% of CEOs are women (16% in 2020-21)
  • 100% of organisations have paid parental leave for both men and women (93% in 2020-21)
  • 30% female representation on governing bodies (26% in 2020-21)
  • 36% of promotions were awarded to women (32% in 2020-21))
  • 80% of organisations have formal policies in place to support gender diversity (79% in 2020-21)
  • 34% of new appointments were women (32% in 2020-21)
  • 77% of respondent organisations have a formal policy/strategy to support employees who are experiencing family or domestic violence (61% in 2020-21)
  • 91% of organisations had conducted a gender pay gap analysis the past 24 months (44% in 2020-21)


Read the Gender Diversity Data Report 2024 here.

Download gender diversity images here

For more information on the ARA’s Gender Diversity initiatives, visit our website

Contact details:

Media contact:

Natasha Wallace

Senior Manager – Strategic Communications | 0499 272 672 


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