Amey's women drivers show grit and determination more important than gender

08 March 2017
Amey employee stood next to a gritter.
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It’s fair to say that the highways industry is a traditionally male environment, despite the positive progress that has been made towards equal opportunities. Amey values talent, skill and dedication when recruiting staff, regardless of gender and although there are still many more men than women who drive gritters, the Gloucestershire winter maintenance team can boast not just one but two female gritters – and they are passionate about their work.

Tracy Rudge was initially employed by Amey as a data support officer and training coordinator, but had always harboured an ambition to one day drive a lorry. After learning how difficult it is to find gritter drivers to help keep the roads moving during winter, she decided to turn this life-long dream into reality.

Amey supported her ambition by paying for her training and giving Tracy time off work for practice sessions. Tracy’s training included passing a medical, DVSA Hazard Perception tests, Driver CPC Parts 1 to 4, City and Guilds Winter Health and Safety, and the City and Guilds Winter Assessment.

Tracy said: “The fun part was CPC Part 3 – Driving Ability. This consists of four days’ training with a test being carried out with a DVSA Examiner on the fifth day. Unfortunately, I failed the first test. My pride took a battering because I wanted to prove that a woman, in a predominantly male environment, I could pass first time. But my second attempt proved successful and I passed without any minors – a complete clean sheet, which more than made up for it. My assessor mentioned he has only assessed four women, including me, so I guess I’m in a minority group.”

“I’m now on standby and will be working alongside an experienced driver for the first few runs. I don’t expect to be treated any differently just because I’m female and will not be afraid to ask for help if I need it. I will just be one of the team, and hope they do not treat me any differently. In fact, I have received only encouraging comments from my male colleagues.”

Tracy however, is not alone, and joins Area Highways Representative Gill Portlock, who has been driving gritters in Gloucestershire for the last 20 years. Gill said: “I love my job and winter gives me an immense sense of satisfaction.”

Ruth Kinsella, Amey’s Account Director for Gloucestershire’s highways maintenance service, said: “I’m delighted that as part of our winter maintenance service we have two women who feel passionate about the work they do. It goes to show that even though this type of role is often seen as a male one, there’s no reason for that. We encourage applications from both men and women for all the roles we seek to fill and this is a great example of why.”

Cllr Vernon Smith, cabinet member for highways and flood, said: “Amey’s fleet of gritters are a major life force for the county in cold weather. As a former gritter myself I’d like to extend my thanks to Tracy and her colleagues for keeping our county moving when temperatures drop.

“Our contractor’s commitment to providing equal opportunities in a traditionally male-dominated environment sets an example for other businesses to take a similar approach. It’s crucial that employers take positive action to promote gender equality in the workplace.”

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