Paths to gender balance in transport and logistics

By: Ruza Zivkusic-Aftasi

The industry's potential to attract women is increasing, event hears

Paths to gender balance in transport and logistics
Dr Hermione Parsons sees opportunity for women in the sector's ageng workforce.


Education and self-belief is the key to redressing gender imbalance in the transport and logistics industry, attendees at the Victorian Transport Association’s (VTA) annual women’s lunch were told. 

In order to help their career, the mostly-female audience was told to first help themselves by seeking further education and stop assuming they can’t do things.

Held at the Melbourne Zoo last Friday, the lunch under the theme of ‘Roar! Empowering Success and Change’ was organised to help encourage the industry to make a change and attract more women.

Director of Victoria University’s Institute for Supply Chain and Logistics Dr Hermione Parsons says there is plenty of opportunity for women in the industry, particularly as the average age within it is in the late 50s.

"That means there’s more and more potential," Parsons says.

"There is a huge opportunity for people with a bit of education and all your knowledge to be able to dig into a whole different sorts of worlds, not just an institute doing research, but major corporations doing really interesting commercial stuff.

"The glass ceiling might be put above you by others but that glass door is the one you can break down and break the ceiling as well."

Victoria Police superintendent Debra Robertson, who raised three children while maintaining her career and successfully appealing to the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal for the right to work part-time, says women need to take charge of their career and write their own story.

Only eight per cent of police were women when Robertson joined the force in 1983.

She became a detective in 1989 where women comprised one per cent of detectives.

"Having three kids under the age of four years I knew it was going to be somewhat of a challenge to be a working detective but I just figured I’d look into flexible work," Robertson says.

"In Victoria Police up until 1995 there were none.

"It’s about writing your own story and don’t give it to anyone. It doesn’t always pan out the way you want it to at that time and place but it’s up to you to control it and take it to the end where you want it to be.

"Don’t accept that it can’t happen; it’s been hard for me but it’s that stuff that I’m the proudest of."

DP World managing director Paul Scurrah has seen an increase in women when putting a stop on bullies.

Taking on an aggressive overhaul of structure, the management has installed a "zero tolerance" policy on swearing.

"We have changed our strategy, our vision and our mission which is to care more; care more about our people, our customers and our stakeholders. It’s a very simple vision that doesn’t have an end date on it," Scurrah says.

"When I started at the company we were five per cent women.

"Two years down we are seven per cent. It’s a long walk but someone has to start the journey somewhere and there are plenty of females who want to work for us out there but we just have to find them.

"Many people are paying lip service to diversity and we are saying that the intention is not enough, it is the behaviour you get judged on."

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