How can digital transformation create a more diverse workforce in the rail industry?

In September, Hexagon exhibited at Innotrans in Berlin, the world’s largest trade fair focused on the transportation industry. During this four-day event, our Europe, Middle East and Asia regional marketing sales team showcased our sensor and software solutions that help rail organizations digitally transform their infrastructure information, security, planning and operations.

While there, I attended the Women in Mobility luncheon, where 900 female leaders gathered to network and listen to influential industry experts. Highlighting the role of women in the rail industry cannot be underestimated, and the goal of this luncheon was to connect female role models to enhance visibility and foster innovation through diversity.

Henrik Hololei, director-general of the European Commission, shared the importance of female visibility in rail and highlighted a troubling fact during his presentation: “Women are underrepresented in the rail sector. They only account for less than 20% of Europe’s railway workforce.”

Minimizing the gender gap in rail

Although the demographic developments in the rail sector are challenging, organizations should never overlook women in the industry. Gender diversity is necessary — it is a key source of enrichment and strengthens professional performance.

In fact, several studies have demonstrated that a diverse workforce fosters an innovative and respectful environment among colleagues, provides a significantly higher problem-solving competence and contributes to better working conditions.

Unfortunately, gender diversity in the workplace hasn’t always been a focal point. In the past, most jobs in rail were considered too physically demanding and associated with hazardous manual handling operations, whereas today, machines and technology-assisted processes alleviate the workload of rail laborers. Digitization in rail is imperative to optimize systems and processes, as well as cultivate gender diversity.

How does digital transformation support this effort?

Hexagon contributes to digital transformation in rail with its high-precision imaging, laser and radar sensors that allow the capture and measurement of railway tracks, bridges, tunnels and viaducts without the need for costly and regular on-site deployment of resources. This data, spread across multiple systems, can be combined into a dynamic, digital twin of all rail infrastructure and assets — from stops, tracks and switches to ticket machines, benches and trash cans.

Improved capture, access and management of railway infrastructure data not only helps rail organizations make more informed decisions, but it also optimizes the use of assets to create a more productive and safer environment for workers. The days of hauling coal and heavy lifting are over, and gender stereotypes no longer apply as they used to.

Women should be better represented in all roles throughout the industry. Deploying digital transformation solutions improves systems and processes, promoting safer, more efficient working conditions. And increasing automation and digitization in the railway sector leads to an enriched workforce, where opportunities are more accessible for women.

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