Ascent: Empowering Women on their Rail Career Journey

Trailblazing Twenties: Igniting Ambition in Rail

Join Women in Rail Scotland, sponsored by COWI as we discuss Ascent: Empowering Women on their Rail Career Journey, at our first event – Trailblazing Twenties: Igniting Ambition in Rail taking place on 12 October 2023!


“Ascent” symbolises the upward climb, growth, and progress of women in the rail industry as they navigate through different phases of their careers. This series aims to empower and support women at every stage of their journey, celebrating their achievements and providing valuable insights to help them reach new heights in their professional lives.

Our Empowering Women on their Rail Career Journey event series will explore the different phases of women’s careers, inspired by Avivah Wittenberg-Cox’s article. Each event will focus on one phase (20s, 30s, 40s, and 50+) and provide insights, discussions, and case studies related to that stage.


Our first event is:  “Trailblazing Twenties: Igniting Ambition in Rail”

Hear from our client, contractor and consultant panel on how they navigated their early careers and the choices they made which led them to having varying careers in the rail sector.  The panel will reflect on the types of role the rail industry offers and in their opinion why it is important to encourage both men and women into the sector.


Eva MacInnes – Vice President – Operations, COWI

Eva is jointly responsible for the operations of UK Design Consultancy COWI. With a background in the design and construction of civil and geotechnical engineering projects, she has worked on the Scottish Railway Network as design lead and project director for the RCDP (CP5) and CP6 Earthworks contracts, was a design lead on Border Railway and formed part of COWI’s emergency rail response team. Eva has also worked on major tunnelling schemes, a number of large earthwork contracts, highways infrastructure projects, hospital and wind farm developments and now continues to be involved in both rail and green energy projects.

Eva is a Chartered Civil Engineer with the Institution of Civil Engineers, steering group member for Women in Rail Scotland and is an active member in the University of Strathclyde’s Industry Advisory Board.

Laura McWilliams – Programme Manager in Capital Delivery, Network Rail

Laura has worked in Network Rail for 19 years and has held various Project Management roles in that time, developing and delivering across the Renewals and Enhancement portfolios. Laura has focussed her academic skills and achievements to become a Chartered Project Manager accredited by the Association for Project Management and became the first female Capital Delivery Programme Manager in Scotland in 2020.

Martha McGowan – Contracts Manager, BAM Nuttall

Martha is a Contracts Manager with Bam Nuttall based in Kilsyth and is responsible for the delivery of sub-stations for SSE around Scotland in locations such as Shetland, Orkney, Aberdeen, Inverness, Oban and Campbeltown.  Martha worked in Scotland and in New Zealand on water treatment plants and bridge construction sites before joining BAM as  structures agent on the new Borders Railway line in Galashiels, leading a team to construct new structures and restore masonry arch bridges from the original railway line that closed in the 1960’s. She has since worked on major structures in the rail industry in Manchester, and led a construction team of 60 to Antarctica to build a new wharf for the British Antarctic Survey’s new research ship – the Sir David Attenborough.


Registration is now closed. If you would like to attend the event, please contact


  • 17:00
  • 17:15
  • 17:30
    Panel Discussion
  • 18:30
  • 19:00
    Event Close