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Woman in a red jacket interviews four school students about their station of the future model, which is in front of them.
HS2 education ambassadors support STEM students in their studies.

Women in Engineering

At HS2 we’ve always been focused on addressing the issue of an ageing workforce in railway engineering and construction, a workforce traditionally dominated by men. HS2’s Skills, Employment and Education Strategy ensures there are pathways in place to engage women and young people every step of the way. From early STEM-focused workshops, to careers fairs, work experience days, apprenticeships and graduate recruitment programmes. We also actively encourage more women to apply for our roles.

Our school engagement programme has a strong focus too on engaging students from groups currently under-represented in transport and infrastructure, including girls.

To celebrate International Women in Engineering Day read and watch our stories about women in engineering.

Our stories

HS2’s pilot Women into Construction programme, delivered in conjunction with partner agencies in the West Midlands, saw 15 unemployed women, aged 24-54, sign up for a six-week classroom and site-based taster programme in construction. More than half went on to secure full-time employment within the sector and twelve months later, some of those women are working on HS2. Rozie was one of those women: this is her story.

Rozie Harris is an employee at HS2
HS2 Ltd’s directly employed female workforce sits at 39% compared to the sector average of 12.5%, as reported in October 2019 by GMB, the union for construction workers.

Rozie Harris

My obsession with engineering started at a really young age and is all down to my dad. He worked as a civil engineer with Birse Rail, and I remember spending one Christmas watching him install a new bridge for the Cross City Line near Selly Oak. I was completely awestruck!

I came across HS2’s Women into Construction post on Instagram, promoting a 6-week programme they were running to encourage more women into the sector. I was accepted on to the programme and when it finished that summer, I applied and was offered a contracting job working with HS2’s early works contractor, Fusion Joint Venture, as Senior Project Engineer.

The team at Fusion have been great to work with and I was immediately struck by the number of female employees – it’s a far cry from my student days. I’ve been with Fusion for just under a year now and it’s been amazing to be part of the team delivering HS2 – it really doesn’t get any bigger!

Engineering is such a diverse career and I would encourage women who may be wondering what path to follow, or whether it’s time for a change, to explore the opportunities available.

Carine Marin - Senior Command Control & Signalling (CCS) Engineer:

"When I look back at my career, I am very happy to have chosen engineering. An engineer is a professionally competent person who seeks to solve technical challenges using technical, economical and human interaction knowledge. I would encourage young women to choose engineering. I think a woman can bring a lot to the engineering discipline and new approaches to problem solving."

Chelsea Evans is an apprentice at HS2.
"Working as an apprentice at HS2 is brilliant!"

Chelsea Evans

It is the best start for my career because you work on such a large project. When I tell my friends and family that I’m an apprentice working for HS2 in the engineering sector, the most common phrase they say is ‘earn and learn’. For me, it’s not just all of that, it’s getting experience on working on such a big project.

The best thing about working in engineering and construction is site visits. Most people think I am sitting at a desk entering numbers into a spreadsheet. Engineering is about fixing a problem and developing a solution that’s sustainable and innovative.

The main challenge for women becoming engineers is just believing in themselves. If you are passionate and interested in the subject it is definitely something for you. More needs to be done in showcasing opportunities available and also engaging with people interested in the subjects in order to get more women into engineering.

Caroline Warrington, Signalling Senior Project Manager:

“As a project manager I have always stayed close to the engineering and I love seeing projects develop from concept through design, installation and testing, to being operational. HS2 is the most exciting project I have worked on, it’s a fantastic engineering challenge and I feel privileged to be involved in bringing new technologies to the UK railway”.

Inspiring the next generation of female engineers

While constructing HS2, we want to set the direction for how we upskill the nation and ensure different groups are provided the opportunity to help build HS2. By harnessing the use of essential skills, we aim to inspire young people and support their development. We work with pupils at local schools along the HS2 route to understand the link between the essential skills they enjoy learning and how this links to future careers. Ones they may not have thought about before on major projects like HS2. Find our educational content here.

HS2 Ltd also prides itself on its diverse workforce. Female employees inspire others through its Gender Balance Network and play an active role as Education Ambassadors delivering STEM focused workshops to pupils in primary and secondary schools and speaking at college events and university lectures. Our ambassadors have helped school students from Northampton on their project to redesign Rugby train station for the Big Bang Competition. The students were given a tour of HS2 offices and ambassadors provided valuable knowledge to help the students improve on their design. Watch this short video about their experience and their perspectives on engineering.

Mind the Gap

How students used STEM skills to design a station of the future.

Kearney, Apprentice Engineer at CSjv Ltd working on HS2 Ltd

"I feel to get more woman to join the sector we need too encourage then from a much younger age. Just making them realise that everything they do in their day to day life can relate back to engineering. As far as playing with Lego, drawing, it all relates back to engineering."

 How we encourage more women into rail

HS2 is building a diverse workforce that will not only deliver Britain’s new high speed railway, but future infrastructure projects too. HS2 has launched a series of webinars which explore how the project is playing a critical role in the country’s post pandemic recovery.

The first webinar in this series, Mind the Gap, explores the barriers women face in the construction industry and how we can encourage more women into rail. Speakers include: Dyan Crowther, Chair, NSAR and CEO, High Speed One; Julie Venn-Morton, Skills Manager Area North, HS2 Ltd and Amy Keirl, Organiser, TSSA.

Webinar: Mind the Gap

Watch our webinar to find out how we can all encourage more women into rail.