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women conductors

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women conductors
Posted by mydee001 on Thursday, December 13, 2012 8:26 PM

HI, I joined this forum to get some insight and your opinions about female conductors.  I'm a single female with 2 kids and I had an interview today with KCS for a conductor trainee.  I thought the interview went well and everyone there seemed laid back.  At the end of the interview he informed me that there were no women working there "0", and they HAD to hire women and his response was "so you have a pretty good chance of being hired!"  Which is a good thing for me!!! I'm looking for a career that'll support me and my family with good benefits.  I'm not afraid of hard work at all, I've worked for Boise Cascade plywood production plant slinging wet wood for 12 hours a day in some of the harshest weather conditions.  I want to hear you guys opinions and advice of how to make this a career for myself and any things that you think that i should consider before taking the job if offered.  Thanks!!

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Posted by Ulrich on Thursday, December 13, 2012 9:08 PM

No females working at KCS?...wow..something fishy about that. Surely they've had female applicants in the past... the 1970s are long gone and over with, and women have been part of the mainstream employment scene for at least 40 years now. Hopefully you get the job.

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, December 13, 2012 9:16 PM

My carrier has a number of women that are currently working as Conductors as well as a number that have become promoted locomotive engineers.  Not working in T&E service my self, I don't know the day to day, minute to minute aggrevations they are having to endure - since operating positions have traditionally been staffed by men - I am sure there are slights and aggrevations that are being directed toward the trailblazing female empoyees entering the formerly all male den. 

That being said, stand your ground and don't take any sexist crap - but don't become 'rabbit eared' and take every thing that is said or done the wrong way.

With T&E staffing normally being the Engineer on the locomotive and the Conductor being the only person on the ground - you will have to 'pull your weight' as there will not be anyone else on the ground to assist you in the routine performance of your duties.  Remember, you will performing those duties during all hours of the day and night in all kinds of weather - good to bad to much worse than anything you have ever been intentionally outside in.

Being a trailblazer on your carrier, you will have the hardest road to travel as you will be the first and set the tone for all those who may follow.  Don't get baited into a situation that could be used against you.  Being a single mother with children, and becoming the youngest employee on the extra list, you WILL be working all hours of the day and night - after getting a nominal 2 hour call to duty - ie. you get called at 2 AM to report for duty at 4 AM - if you are called in road service it will be 24 to 48 hours or more after you go on duty until you get back to your home terminal and register off.  I hope you have your child care arranged.

Women are performing T&E duties on other carriers and there is no reason you cannot do the same on the KCS.  Good Luck!

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

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Posted by mydee001 on Thursday, December 13, 2012 10:51 PM
Nope! Not a 1 female at that location! He warned me about the "trash" talk but I'm the only girl of 3 brothers and the youngest and I'm not easily flattered or offended but I also don't take any crap! I've talked to several family members as far as childcare goes and they've all committed to helping. I love paving the way for others and if hired I will do my best to positively represent KCS and other women who come after me. Being that I have no prior rail experience or knowledge do I need rocket science knowledge or will good studying skills and common sense get me where I need to be?
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Posted by edblysard on Thursday, December 13, 2012 11:12 PM

The job itself can be great, and can be just as boring and numb as any other.

It is quite possible KCS has no female conductors, my railroad has none.

We did have a female engineer, but she retired.

Be prepared to be away from your kids and home for several days at a time.

Until you have enough seniority to hold a yard job or a local turn. You will ride the extra board or be in pool service.

The hardest physical part of the job will be having to pick up and carry a knuckle, about 90 lbs.

I know, you already said you tossed lumber around for years, I have flipped a stack or two of plywood myself, and we both know it’s the mass and inertia and balance that counts…none of which applies to picking up a piece of steel about the size of a basketball.

Lining switches and tying hand brakes is about the most physical it will get, but be prepared to work in every type of weather you can imagine, from snow to driving rain to 102 degree summer days.

Most of the job is mental, being alert and aware of what is going on around you, and figuring out how to get the work done in the least amount of moves and time.

KCS, like all carriers, will want you to focus on personal safety, so stress that in your next interview, and trust me, there is a safe and efficient way to do this job, there is zero reasons to take any risk.

Be prepared to be ostracized for a while, the male work force in T&E service will give you a hard time, first because you’re a new hire, or “newbie” and second because you’re a female…toss it right back at them, most of what they spout off about is simply to see if you can take the heat, so don’t go running to the trainmaster if your feelings get hurt, stand your ground instead, and once they see your serious about the job, they will quit giving you a hard time.

Most of the folks I know at KCS are pretty good at what they do, and a pretty good bunch of folks, you should like working there.

You didn’t say how old your kids were, but understand you will not be home every night, and most likely will not be able to take them to and from  school, show up for birthdays and such…the railroad will own you and your time.

If you kids are old enough to care for themselves, of if you have someone like a grandparent that can watch them, great, if not, then you will have to make arrangements for them.

By the way, we have a female conductor here on the forums, who is also a RCO, remote control operator, which means she can run a remote control locomotive.

Her name is Sara, hopefully she will jump in here and add her experience to this.

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Posted by mydee001 on Friday, December 14, 2012 12:14 AM
Thanks edblysard!
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Posted by mydee001 on Friday, December 14, 2012 12:17 AM
My kids are 10 & 7 their birthdays are at the beginning of the year so if I get hired at least I won't have to worry about missing a birthday for another year!
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Posted by Ulrich on Friday, December 14, 2012 6:12 AM

KCS appears to be far behind the times then. Around here anyway, CP and CN have had female T & E service employees  for decades now .. I'm really surprised that some roads have yet to cross the employment equity/equal opportunity employment  rubicon. I recall reading an article in Rail Classics about Southern Pacific hiring their first female brakeman...in 1969! My suspicion is that, if indeed that's the case at KCS, they've got an old boys' network going that actively discourages women from applying or getting hired...or else why none there now? We're almost in 2013 now...

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Posted by edblysard on Friday, December 14, 2012 6:56 AM

Because women don’t often apply for T&E in the hiring sessions.

The last new hire class we did, zero women applied.

We had 16 slots in class, took over 400 applications, none from females.

It isn’t a matter of the carriers not wanting or turning away females, it is simply that women don’t apply for the jobs.

We did have a female conductor trainee a few years back; the class took a lunch break during the hands on training, she simply didn’t return from lunch, and never returned follow up calls.

We used a human resource consulting firm last time, instead of doing the interviews ourselves, and they actively recruited high school, former military personal and local police agencies.

I don’t think the carriers are discouraging women, most managers already know it’s the brain, not the brawn that works best.

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Posted by mydee001 on Friday, December 14, 2012 7:56 AM
Well guys I got a conformation email that I didn't get the job so I guess better luck next time! Thanks for all the information and advice!!
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Posted by henry6 on Friday, December 14, 2012 8:07 AM

There are problems in hiring for the likes of truck drivers and railroad train employees: away from home time and undefined hours.  There is a reluctancy to apply for jobs when you can be away from home for weeks on end or for an undetermined number of days on a turnaround.  Women with families are probably more reluctant to take on such jobs.  On commuter rails, however, there is a consistancy of hours and the ability to be "home" at the end of the day.  Thus you will find a lot of women filling cabs and cars on the commuter trains but not so with over the road freight jobs.

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Posted by Ulrich on Friday, December 14, 2012 8:51 AM

I can appreciate that. Some roads appear to have solved that problem by running trains on a more predictable basis...i.e.CN  has been promoting its scheduled train initiative for about five years now, and that may also result in more predictable work schedules for train employees. It's not unusal to see a female train employee here in the greater Toronto area... I would estimate that women comprise up to 20% of all train employees here. In part this is because both roads have made efforts early on to promote the hiring of women. Also, our government requires that the workforce of larger companies reflects the population as a whole...so an all male workforce would be  a definite no no here..if only males apply then companies are obliged to go out and recruit women and/or change the job so that it is more friendly to female hires. We've made some great strides over the years..I'm so glad I can tell my daughter she can do anything she sets her mind to.. if she wants to become a conductor then that door is open for her.

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Posted by Randy Stahl on Friday, December 14, 2012 8:51 AM

I worked with females in both the mechancal department and the transportation department. They were all larger and stronger than I, therefore I was afraid of them. No sexual harrassment from me !!

Female conductor  "6588, back up 15 to a joint".

 Engineer me "Yes ma'am".

 

Randy

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Posted by Ulrich on Friday, December 14, 2012 9:44 AM

I know what you mean Randy... I've met those too... One lady mechanic here is 6 ft. 4 in and packed with muscle.. a fine mechanic too and not to be messed with.

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Posted by BroadwayLion on Friday, December 14, 2012 10:20 AM

LION is not going to go outdoors and work in the cold. Him is not going to pickup 90 pound knuckles, and him is not going to miss his rest at night.

LION is not going to work for a railroad.

well... maybe, if,,, if only.....

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Posted by henry6 on Friday, December 14, 2012 10:24 AM

Reminds me of the story my father would tell that after retiring as a Provost Marshall from the Army Reserve with a Majority and total security clearances.   His hobby was ships and would take pictures of whatever he could find much line us railfans do.  One day after retirement, he was nosing around a NYC Army installation and went through several gates and clearances as he approached his camera's target.  To his surprise the last two sentries guarding the final gate were two young women recruit MP's.  He made some comment about "two young ladies being the last safety guard" between him and the ship he was about to click to the 35MM film and that one of the young ladies' replied quickly, "You don't want to try us" or words to that effect....he said he realized to say no, smile and let them give him the ok to proceed to the ship, take his pictures, and leave without any further comments.   We've come a long way...they've come a long way, Baby!

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Posted by John WR on Friday, December 14, 2012 12:47 PM

I agree with my fellow posters.  If the job is offered to you you should take it.  You should be prepared to work with men (and it sounds like you are) but not accept sexism.  

I've never worked for a freight railroad so I have no insight into the actual job.  But you can certainly be a conductor as well as any man.  This is 2012, not 1912.  Good luck and best wishes.  

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Posted by erikem on Friday, December 14, 2012 2:32 PM

Ulrich

I know what you mean Randy... I've met those too... One lady mechanic here is 6 ft. 4 in and packed with muscle.. a fine mechanic too and not to be messed with.

I knew a 6'3" bouncer and a 6'2" meat cutter in years past. While I wouldn't have wanted to cross either of them, both women were very pleasant and easy to get along with.

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Posted by CShaveRR on Friday, December 14, 2012 3:24 PM

mydee001
Well guys I got a conformation email that I didn't get the job so I guess better luck next time! Thanks for all the information and advice!!

I'm sorry you didn't get the job.  I hope they told you why not, or whether it would be worthwhile to reapply later. 

Please don't be discouraged from railroading.  I never went through the current qualifications for being a conductor, as I held seniority in a yard, and was rarely out on the road.  There were, and still are, a bunch of female yard foremen where I worked, and I will tell you that in nearly 40 years of working with various hump supervisors (sometimes yardmasters, most of the time hump conductors), the one who I feel did the best job and was the best person to work with was a lady who was born after I hired out.  She, too, is a single mom (that may be the best skill you require in some cases!). 

Also, don't limit yourself to one craft when trying to get a railroading job.  If you failed for some reason to be hired as a brakeman, there might be a position for you in mechanical or clerical trades.  Another former Forum friend didn't qualify to become a brakeman, but she stuck it out, became a yard clerk, and is now, I believe, in training or qualified as a dispatcher.

(As for Sarah, someone else may have to give you an update on her career.)


Carl

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Posted by Ulrich on Friday, December 14, 2012 3:43 PM

Join the club..i too applied some years ago and wasn't hired. The reasons aren't all that important...the important thing to remember is  that there are alot of jobs and careers that provide some degree of satisfaction along with a pay check that pays the bills. Be flexble..reapply by all means..but keep an open mind to opportunities in other fields. Sometimes you have to apply half a dozen times before they finally see that you're serious.. I knew someone who desperately tried to get into GM.... he was told no repeatedly but went back again and again and again...and he was finally hired...

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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Friday, December 14, 2012 8:48 PM

Does KCS have a formal training program for new conductors similar to those of NS, CSX, and perhaps some others ?  See their websites for more info about the job.

Search this website/ Forum for articles by and references to Linda Niemann (or Linda Grant Niemann, etc.).  She wrote 3 or 4 articles in Trains about 10 -12 years ago (some were controversial) about her experiences as an SP (later UP) switchman and conductor:

"Wendy and the lost boys on the Lawrence switcher - switch crews at San Jose"
by Niemann, Linda, from Trains, April 2005, p. 38

 

"Boomer in a boom town - working for Southern Pacific in Houston"
by Niemann, Linda Grant, from Trains, June 2004, p. 52

    

"The hospital yard - memories of working in Southern Pacific yards"
by Niemann, Linda, from Trains, January 2003, p. 42

Likewise, this topic has already been discussed a few times here before - sometimes for men, occasionally for women. 

CSX Conductor Sarah J.M. Warner posts here under the "screen name" of "CSXrules4eva" - see her profile at: http://cs.trains.com/members/csxrules4eva/default.aspx 

See also her post of 01-11-2012 on Page 4 of 6 in the thread on "What is Railroad Life Like Today for New Conductors?" at: http://cs.trains.com/trn/f/111/p/200788/2201070.aspx#2201070 

My suggestion: Keep trying - not only with KCS, but any other railroad in the area.  Your description of your work experience would seem to be helpful. 

- Paul North.     

"This Fascinating Railroad Business" (title of 1943 book by Robert Selph Henry of the AAR)
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Posted by samfp1943 on Friday, December 14, 2012 9:55 PM

MYDEE001:

                       Here is a link that you might want to investigate

   :http://search.jccc.edu/search?q=Railroad&btnG.x=3&btnG.y=3&site=default_collection&client=www-frontend&output=xml_no_dtd&proxystylesheet=www-frontend

   Admittedly; I suspect that it  ( Overland Park,Ks )  is probably out side your home area ( SW Louisiana (?)  But as  Ed B. suggested. Something other than T&E might be a better entree to a RR Career.

Just a Thought.Whistling

Best of luck on your search.

Sam

 

 


 

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Posted by Boyd on Saturday, December 15, 2012 1:01 AM

One actor from Hogans Heros named Werner Clemperer had a great passion for being a conductor.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Saturday, December 15, 2012 6:56 AM

Boyd

One actor from Hogans Heros named Werner Clemperer had a great passion for being a conductor.

Bad pun.  If I recall correctly, Otto Klemperer, who was Werner Klemperer's father, was a classical musician and may have been a conductor from time to time.

Paul The commute to work may be part of the daily grind, but I get two train rides a day out of it.
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Posted by CShaveRR on Saturday, December 15, 2012 8:32 AM

Otto Klemperer was in fact a distinguished and revered conductor, and also has some compositions to his credit.  Son Werner may or may not have been a musician, but was very much in demand as a narrator in orchestral works that required them.

Carl

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Posted by zardoz on Saturday, December 15, 2012 2:53 PM

John WR

.....But you can certainly be a conductor as well as any man.  This is 2012, not 1912.....  

Perhaps, but the knuckles and drawbar chains are just as heavy now as then...and the ice is just as hard to chop out of a switch, the packed snow just as difficult to dig through....
Regarding Carl's advice to perhaps try for another craft on a railroad - when I hired out I was applying for a job as a yard clerk, but during the course of the interview, it became apparent to the interviewer that I was much more suited for the Operating department; of course, that was 40 years ago (geez, am I that old already...?)
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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, December 15, 2012 4:00 PM

zardoz

John WR

.....But you can certainly be a conductor as well as any man.  This is 2012, not 1912.....  

Perhaps, but the knuckles and drawbar chains are just as heavy now as then...and the ice is just as hard to chop out of a switch, the packed snow just as difficult to dig through....
Regarding Carl's advice to perhaps try for another craft on a railroad - when I hired out I was applying for a job as a yard clerk, but during the course of the interview, it became apparent to the interviewer that I was much more suited for the Operating department; of course, that was 40 years ago (geez, am I that old already...?)

I suspect the knuckles are somewhat heavier on today's railroad than they were 100 years ago - 100 years ago there weren't 143 ton cars assembled into 15 & 20K ton trains of 8000, 9000 feet and longer.  I don't believe chains are common on locomotives any more - if you have a drawbar out of the 'wrong' end of a car, Car Department assistance or the assistance of another crew will be required to get the car set out.  Snow and Ice are still the same as they were, however, now it is generally up to the train crew to clean their own switches when necessary to service a industry.  Strenous work - work that has been done by numerous women on my carrier.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

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Posted by edblysard on Saturday, December 15, 2012 8:20 PM

Do this…

Every few weeks, call them back and ask when the next round of interviews is being held…don’t take no for an answer if you want it bad enough.

They will notice your persistence after a while.

Is there a short line, regional or switching road near you?

Try them as well…

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Posted by Randy Stahl on Sunday, December 16, 2012 6:03 AM

Or you could do what I do , Sleep your way to the top .

 

RAndy

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Posted by Mookie on Sunday, December 16, 2012 7:36 AM

RANDY! 

She who has no signature! cinscocom-tmw

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