The participation in the DIAMOND project, identifying and evaluating specific measures to meet the needs and expectations of women as users of different modes of transport and as workers in the sector, has been a final push of Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat (FGC) process of adapting the company to the gender perspective.
At the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020, in two different waves, a survey was launched to users of the two FGC transport networks, a suburban railway operator and infrastructure administrator with more than 250km and 80 stations across Catalonia. More than 250 people voluntarily responded to the survey to give their perspective on gender equity in network design, facilities and quality of service they receive as women and men.
The results conclude that there is not such a big difference between men’s and women’s perceptions and needs. Both genders valued many aspects equally, except in cases such as having a disability, travelling with small children with a pram or travelling at night.
Some aspects on FGC infrastructure were very well appreciated: “I like the lighting in the corridors and the visibility of the surveillance cameras“, commented some female regular users.
According to the corporate statistics, more than 60% of the users of the evaluated railway network are women, which is in line with European data collected and analysed by the International Transport Forum. Women surveyed by FGC stated that they feel safe using FGC facilities. “The APP on incivility also allows us to alert them to annoying or potentially unsafe situations“, said one user regarding the application launched by the railway operator to report on harassment situations in their facilities.
The survey launched in the framework of DIAMOND public transport case study allowed to conclude what’s FGC position regarding the implementation of gender perspective policies is very advanced and highly valued by customers.
The information obtained through the surveys was complemented with the organisation of a “Focus group” with six women from different social classes and family conditions, regular users of the FGC public transport network. The focus group was extremely useful for the company as a space for frank dialogue between the operator and their customers.
“When I travel at night, I try to use FGC trains and not those of other operators as the quality of service and sense of safety is much better. The lighting, security cameras and emergency points create a lot of peace of mind,” said Irene.
“The open spaces and good visibility of the station’s accesses and surroundings generate safety, which is why I like to use FGC stations” said Lucia.
Assessing gender differences at the workplace
The role of FGC also consisted of obtaining information from inside the organisation by conducting a survey asking employees of the public transport company what obstacles women working in the transport sector face and what measures would need to be put in place for the situation to improve.
The final goal of this activity was to assess women’s needs and barriers as employees in Europe’s transport sector with the aim to translate this understanding into specific and better gender-oriented job descriptions and adapted candidate search processes.
After years of good practice in this area, survey results left little room for improvement. All the women surveyed stated that they did not identify any barriers or limitations to their professional development in relation to men or discriminatory behaviour by the organisation or colleagues.
In recent years, the percentage of female train drivers, middle management and managers has continued to grow. Being a woman or a man no longer makes any difference at work. Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya (FGC) has worked in the recent years to improve its gender balance, not only in the company overall but also at management levels. This work has focused on two different levels. On the one hand, FGC has adopted gender mainstreaming methodology introducing gender perspective into all policies and programs. On the other hand, FGC has carried out specific actions related to recruitment processes focusing on different areas and problems.
The results has shown a significant increase of the percentage of female train drivers, middle management and managers. The Diamond project has contributed in developing this active strategy in all areas of the workplace, with the aim of achieving equality amongst all staff profiles.
About the author
Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat (FGC) is a suburban railway operator and infrastructure administrator with the aim to contribute to the improvement of Catalonia’s mobility. FGC provides to the project their expertise in the design of stations, trains and other railway infrastructure and is responsible for the public transport infrastructure use-case.