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Crossrail calls for the industry to act on gender gap

By Steve Kennedy

Crossrail has called for the construction industry to do more to attract and retain women into engineering and construction.

Currently women make up just 19 per cent of the construction workforce, the majority of those in administrative roles.

Speaking at Gender Diversity in the UK Engineering and Construction Industry at Gibson Hall today (21 November), Crossrail’s Central Section Delivery Director Ailie MacAdam said the industry had a “responsibility to do more” to provide career paths for women and warned it was missing out on significant talent by failing to address gender inequality in the industry more quickly.

With more than 25 years construction experience, Ailie MacAdam is responsible for delivering £7.5 billion of new Crossrail infrastructure, including 42 kilometres of new train tunnels and seven new stations.

Ailie MacAdam, Crossrail Central Section Delivery Director said: “As a country we are short of engineers, so if we ignore 50 per cent of the potential workforce we’re shooting ourselves in the foot. We have a responsibility to do more to address the issues, find out why women don’t pursue this line of work and provide the opportunities for them to be successful.

“It is also vitally important to reach out to young girls before they choose their path through education, to dispel myths, show girls that engineering is a viable option and how rewarding it can be.

“There is strong evidence that shows diverse teams get better results. At Crossrail we have the chance to make a difference and provide women with an opportunity to explore this inspirational career path. Wouldn’t it be great if one of the things Crossrail was remembered for was making a real difference to diversity in the industry.”

The Lord Mayor of the City of London, Fiona Woolf CBE, also spoke at the seminar and highlighted the benefits for the UK engineering and construction sector by attracting and retaining a larger pool of talent.

Crossrail is working to attract new talent to the construction sector and has established the £13m Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy (TUCA) as a new, purpose-built facility providing training in the key skills required to work in tunnel excavation and underground construction. It has also established a graduate and apprenticeship programme with over 260 apprentices now working on the project.

Allie MacAdam said: “TUCA is a wonderful facility in which to train the UK’s future tunnelling experts, I want to see more talented young women taking up this unique opportunity on Crossrail, and joining me on tomorrow’s projects to build more great British infrastructure.”

Engineering companies in the UK are projected to have 2.74 million job openings between 2010 and 2020 with 1.86 million of these needing engineering skills.


Notes to editors:

For further information contact the Crossrail Press Office on 020 3229 9552 or email [email protected].

About Ailie MacAdam:

Ailie MacAdam, a Senior Vice President of Bechtel Ltd, is an award-winning project director with experience on mega projects across the globe. She was previously Project Director on High Speed 1 (UK) where she led the team during the critical start of the commercial operation phase. 

Before that she was the Project Manager responsible delivering London’s £600m St Pancras station renovation on time and budget. In 2008, Ailie was honoured as an ‘Inspirational Leader’ at the UK construction industries’ Inspire Awards which recognises women in the built environment.

About Crossrail:

The Crossrail route will pass through 38 stations and run over 100km from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west, through new twin-bore 21 km (13 miles) tunnels below central London to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.

When Crossrail opens it will increase London's rail-based transport network capacity by 10%, supporting regeneration and cutting journey times across the city. Crossrail services are due to commence through central London in 2018.

Crossrail is being delivered by Crossrail Limited (CRL). CRL is a wholly owned subsidiary of Transport for London. Crossrail is jointly sponsored by the Department for Transport and Transport for London.