Transport has traditionally been a male-dominated industry, with female transport employees averaging only 17% of the workforce across 46 countries. This is based on a 2020 Discussion Paper about The Gender Dimension of the Transport Workforce by the International Transport Forum, an inter-governmental organization of 62 member countries acting as a global think tank for transport policy and administratively integrated with The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). However, the silver lining is that there are a number of women in rail transport who have already broken through iron-clad barriers, and are now thriving in their chosen careers.
In celebration of National Women’s Month, and in the spirit of embracing equity in the workplace, four inspiring women employed by the Light Rail Manila Corporation (LRMC), private operator of LRT-1, share their experiences on what it takes to stay on the right track career-wise, and how the right employer can help you reach your goals.
A place for women
According to a study commissioned by the International Labour Organization in 2013 on Promoting the employment of women in the transport sector — Obstacles and Policy Opinions, if working conditions are attractive and opportunities for training and development for women exist, it becomes much more likely for women to build a career in the transport sector.
At LRMC, women presently comprise a third (1/3) of the total workforce. Hiring female team members and executives is common practice: more than half or 56% of LRT-1 station supervisors, and 40% of the senior management team are women. Roles that have traditionally been exclusive to men—such as engineering and maintenance, and train operations—are open to women. Alongside female lab technicians and engineers, there are currently eleven (11) female train operators employed by the company.
LRMC recognizes the role of women as active contributors—members, leaders, and decision-makers—to the company’s growth through their skills, strengths, and passion. Many female team members have proven their strength to succeed in a rather male-dominated industry.
A reason to stay
Raquel Carulla has been with LRMC for eight years—the first six years as a station teller, and currently as a train operator. She loves driving the train, and is grateful that LRMC supported her career shift. “I was given the opportunity to prove myself…If men can do it, so [can] women. It takes bravery and strength for someone to take this position and I believe every women has these qualities to become an operator,” said Ms. Carulla.
Realiza Masangkay, a laboratory technician who has been with the company for five years, says that LRMC puts her technical training to good use and continues to provide upskilling that will help advance her career. “Others say that I cannot do it, because this job is only suitable for men. But I was able to overcome [this prejudice] and proved to them that everyone can be educated and, through hard work and dedication, any job can be accomplished [by] a woman,” she shared.
Angielyn Rodriguez, a Lead Station Supervisor, has also been at the company for eight years, and spearheaded the recent reopening of the LRT-1 Roosevelt Station. She considers the relaunch, organized within a short time period, to be a triumph of her team. “The reason why I want to work here in the company is that I can see myself growing professionally…I really love and enjoy my job. In LRMC, I feel that I’m respected, recognized, and valued as a leader,” said Ms. Rodriguez.
Andrea Madrid, Head of Operations, is glad for the flexibility that enables her to balance the duties of a wife and mother, with a fulfilling career where she gets to work in different focus areas, be guided by mentors, and learn from industry experts. In 2022, Ms. Madridrepresented LRMC at the Asian Rail Operators Association Conference in Malaysia. “I was the only woman from Operations and Maintenance in the entire delegation. It made me feel so proud that I work for a company who provides growth opportunities without considering gender.”
Listen to all four women tell their stories in a videoreleased by LRMC last 8 March 2023 in time for the 2023 International Women’s Day (IWD) celebration.
The entire month of March is considered National Women’s Month in the Philippines, and is celebrated annually by LRMC.