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RAC Announces Scholarship Recipients

Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
Cara Chell, diesel mechanic, is photographed in the Winnipeg CP service yard April 17, 2019.

Cara Chell, diesel mechanic, is photographed in the Winnipeg CP service yard April 17, 2019. (Photo by John Woods; Courtesy of RAC)

The Railway Association of Canada (RAC) on Oct. 15 announced the first scholarship recipients from the proceeds of its Women in Rail 2023 conference, which took place in June.

Attendees of the 2023 conference—RAC’s third—were asked to pay a registration fee and a record number of participants RSVP’d yes—especially when they heard about the scholarship program, according to the organization.

“Women in Rail is all about breaking down barriers to gender equality, shattering glass ceilings, and getting more women working at our railways—in yards, on trains, in offices, and in boardrooms,” said RAC President and CEO Marc Brazeau. “Over the last few years, Women in Rail has become more than an event. It’s become a movement. These scholarships are an important way for us to pay it forward to the next generation of female railroaders.”

The four recipients are Lyric Wright, Brianna Carter and Rikki MacMullin from Lambton College and Kayla Vollant from Cégep de Sept-Îles. Recipients from the British Columbia Institute of Technology and the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology will be announced soon.

According to RAC, all four of these post-secondary institutions offer specialized training to prepare young people for careers in rail, including as conductors. Each institution is also an RAC Associate Member.

“Canadian railroaders are—to a person—passionate about what they do. The job is in their blood, almost part of their DNA,” said RAC Director, Member Engagement Janet Greene, who is also the lead organizer of the Women in Rail conference. “Sharing that passion and paving the way for others was highly appealing to our attendees this year.”

 “Everyone wants to work with purpose and have a positive impact on others along the way. This is yet another way Canadian railroaders are giving back—for themselves and for the future,” added Greene.

According to RAC, despite more women occupying high-profile and leadership positions at several Canadian railways, the most recent available StatsCan data show that female railroaders make up 11.8% of the Canadian rail labor force. RAC says it is “committed to supporting and celebrating the women who keep trains moving, and to growing the ranks of female railroaders.” This, RAC adds, includes attracting more young people to rail professions.

More information is available here and here. The dates for Women in Rail 2024 will be announced early next year.

Railway Age and Railway Track & Structures have recognized the growth in leadership and engineering roles for women railroaders since 2017 and 2021, respectively, with Railway Age’s Women in Rail and RT&S’ Women in Railroad Engineering awards.

The industry conversation continues with Railway Age / RT&S Women in Rail 2023—our first in-person Women in Rail conference covering the freight, passenger and transit rail sectors.

The Nov. 2 conference, presented live at the Union League Club of Chicago, will not only provide an opportunity to network with a diverse group of women and their allies, but also allow for attendees to participate in discussions on how railroaders can maintain the momentum of inclusion, build strong support networks, and take advantage of ever-broadening career opportunities.

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