Barriers to women’s employment in the transport sector in Europe

Andree Woodcock, Isolda Constantin, Cristiana Dâmboianu, Stefan Roșeanu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Gender equality is a fundamental principle in the European Union and an essential prerequisite for economic growth, competitiveness, and sustainable development. Women form only 22% of transport workers [1], making this one of the most gender segregated sectors in Europe. This paper is based on results of research conducted as part of the H202O TinnGO (Transport and Innovation Gender Observatory) project (, developed in response to a European Union Call to address the need for a paradigm shift in mobility.
OBJECTIVE: In relation to female employment, the project’s aims were 1) To investigate the experiences of female entrepreneurs and successful career women in the Transport Business Ecosystem (TBE) in 10 socially and economically divergent national contexts, i.e., the TInnGO hubs (United Kingdom, Germany, France, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Romania, Portugal, Baltic Countries, Greece). 2) To discover similarities and differences in work experiences including gender stereotypes and barriers, challenges, and key factors which may contribute to a successful career in this sector. 3) To provide a set of recommendations and advice for businesses and new market entrants.
METHODS: A mixed method, phenomenological approach was used with data collected from the 10 national hubs. A combination of desk top research, interviews and follow up case studies with women who had succeeded in this environment was used to show how women could overcome the persistent and deep-rooted challenges faced in working in a male dominated workspace and the mentalities and behaviour needed to succeed in their chosen profession.

RESULTS: Results from the semi structured interviews and case studies showed little variation between countries, with persistent themes emerging relevant to women’s underrepresentation in transport as a whole and their over representation in support and administrative functions. Key barriers included misogynistic attitudes, male dominated hierarchies, recruitment bias, reluctance to acknowledge a woman’s role and contributions, gender pay gap, male - dominated professional networks and the gender ’glass ceiling’ .
All women cited the extra effort needed to prove their value and abilities. With fortitude and determination, the number of women employed in the industry is slowly increasing, with some countries having well developed frameworks for encouraging women into STEM careers, mentorships schemes and networks.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWork: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment and Rehabilitation
Publication statusSubmitted - 13 Oct 2022


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