women conductors

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women conductors

  • 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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  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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?
  • 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.

  • Thanks edblysard!
  • 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!
  • 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...

  • 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.

  • 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!!
  • 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.

    RIDEWITHMEHENRY will plan and escort railfan rides in and around the NY Metropolitan and Philadephia areas: no mode of transportation is untouched. Guaranteed railfan fun!

  • 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.

  • 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".



  • 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.

  • 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.....

    The Route of the Broadway Lion The Largest Subway Layout in North Dakota.

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