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West Yorkshire leading by example in closing the gender gap

Bradford Council Leader Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe has invited members of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Women in Transport to visit West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

At its meeting this week, the APPG discussed ways to recruit more women into the transport and engineering sector and explore how more girls and young women can be encouraged to study Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. Cllr Hinchcliffe, who chairs the Combined Authority’s Investment Committee, said a visit to West Yorkshire could be an opportunity for the group’s members to meet women who have senior roles in transport and other key areas.

‘Opportunity’

While MPs in Westminster are talking about ways to recruit more women into the transport sector, West Yorkshire Combined Authority is putting it into practice. Three of its five senior posts, Director of Resources, Executive Head of Economic Services and Director of Delivery are held by women along with the senior roles of the Heads of Legal and Democratic Services, Customer Services, Transport Policy and Implementation. 

In addition, women are managing major transport projects such as the development of new rail stations, coordinating the £1bn West Yorkshire Plus Transport Fund programme and leading the Combined Authority’s work on Employment and Skills and Inclusive Growth.

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Investment Committee said:  “When, a year ago, Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake told the Guardian’s Susanna Rustin that there were ‘grounds for hope’ for more women in high-profile local government roles, she was right.

“West Yorkshire is now a county in which two of its five council leaders and three of its council chief executives are women and I am glad to see women filling these vital roles, developing our transport infrastructure to underpin local economic growth and the creation of jobs.

“Ernst & Young recently reported that the most effective way of closing the gender gap was ‘leading from the top’ and in West Yorkshire and through the Combined Authority we are doing that.

Leading by example

“It is only by leading in this way and by example, proving and showcasing what women that we can address this gap including the pay gap, which last year saw women in the UK being paid on average 18% less than men and male managers 40% more likely than female managers to be promoted.

“I would be more than happy to invite members of the APPG to visit West Yorkshire Combined Authority to meet women leading the way in transport, development skills and other key areas.

“Also, the LEP’s successful work to encourage increasing numbers of girls into the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and maths is paving the way for the future.”

While opting for a career in the STEM subjects is a good way for young people to aim at higher career earnings, WISE, which campaigns to promote women in science, technology and engineering recently reported only 13% of those working in a STEM based career are women. Of that 13%, 22% are in Science and Engineering, 14% in ICT, 5.7% in engineering while just 0.2% are in the skilled trades.

TechFuture Initiative

Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership is working to encourage more girls coming through our schools system, into STEM subjects. Initiatives include the LEP’s #techgoals campaign.

Launched in November 2016, #techgoals aims to improve digital teaching in schools, through the upskilling of teachers and the development of their digital resources. It includes some extracurricular activities aimed specifically at girls through the TechFuture Girls initiative.

TechFuture Girls clubs are informal sessions designed to enable girls to experience the fun side of the digital world through creative projects based on real-life challenges from industry. The give attendees the opportunity to skills such as coding, cyber security and 3D design, working with their friends on activities themed around music, sport, charity work and dance. Through these activities, they also learn softer skills such as team work and communication.
TechFuture Girls are delivered by Tech Partnership and sponsored by Hewlett Packard and National Grid.

Cllr Hinchcliffe added: “The LEP’s work to encourage more girls now learning at our schools into the STEM subject areas is providing those girls with improved career prospects in terms of quality and earnings, as part of a workforce equipped to meet the future employment needs of local business.  

“This work to create a diverse, skilled workforce fits with the commitments in our Strategic Economic Plan to deliver a ‘more jobs better jobs programme that widens employment skills, apprenticeships and career progression opportunities, as well as boosting business growth, productivity and innovation.”

Details of careers with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority can be found at www.westyorks-ca.gov.uk/jobs and anyone interested in becoming an Enterprise Adviser can fill in the online application form on the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership website at www.the-lep.com/ or email EnterpriseAdvisers@the-lep.com

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