A BUS company has launched a recruitment campaign for women drivers.

Fewer than one in ten drivers at Brighton and Hove Buses are women so staff will be in Churchill Square Shopping Centre today and tomorrow to try to get more females behind the wheel.

They are offering women a chance to try driving one of their vehicles at a private site near Newhaven.

The recruitment drive comes as the company currently has only 60 women in their team of 821 drivers.

Martin Harris, managing director, said: “This might sound like an issue from two or three decades ago, but the fact that women are still significantly under-represented in our workforce does matter to us.

“This is by no means unique to Brighton and Hove but our team genuinely wants to start changing this to better reflect the community we operate in and the customers we serve. This is one of several initiatives to update perceptions of the job for women."

Judith Aylward was a driver before being promoted to a managerial role at the bus company.

She said: “It is a fantastic job but unfortunately not many women try.

“I think it is largely an issue of perception. Women don’t think they can drive the big buses. That is why we are offering these free sessions for them to try out.”

Speaking about her time behind the wheel, she said: “It’s the best job. I used to work in an office for years and I just had enough of it. I thought: ‘What do I like doing?’ I like driving and I like meeting people so I became a bus driver.

“You get to see the world and the scenery is always changing. Brighton and Hove is such a diverse place as well so you are forever meeting new and interesting people.

“We carry around one million people a week so there is always someone new to speak to.”

Staff will be in front of the shops at Churchill Square from 9am to 4pm today and tomorrow.

‘The stereotype is putting women off’

 Eloise Curtis, 20, of Upper Lewes Road, Brighton, said: “I think women are discouraged from being drivers because if you are a night driver you have to deal with drunks and a lot of unruly behaviour.
“There is also a stigma that professional drivers tend to be men. Everybody should be allowed to do any job that they wish to do.”
Laura Grover, 24, of Court Farm Road, Newhaven, said: “I think the stereotype is putting women off being bus drivers.
“Maybe there are not that many women who want to be bus drivers.
“It is not something that I would do because I like a job where I can move around and do not have to sit in one place, plus I do not drive.”
Hannah Beneameur, 23, of Blois Road, Brighton, said: “When I think of bus drivers I instinctively think of men. I would never say never to doing a job like that. Maybe people do not know where to go to find a job like that. Maybe Brighton and Hove Bus Company should specifically target women when they advertise their jobs.”
Emma Williams, 39, from East Chiltington, said: “I don't think it is a fair representation. Driving is not really my line of work, but if I wanted to drive for a living I would apply to be a female bus driver.”