A recruitment drive has been launched by Dublin Bus and prospective women bus drivers are being encouraged to attend open days this weekend.

While the initiative is open to both men and women, the company is hosting a series of open days in a bid to boost the number of women drivers. 

There are currently 2,550 bus drivers working for Dublin Bus, but just 97 of them are women. Dublin Bus wants to double this figure.

Vivienne Kavanagh, Employee Development and Equality Executive at Dublin Bus, said she believes there are some perceptions around the job that might contribute to the low number of women drivers.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, she said people might think the job is physically unsafe or dirty and Dublin Bus is trying to change these perceptions with the open days.

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The first of the open days will be held on 24 August and is fully booked. Four further open days are planned for next month and October. 

People hoping to attend must have a driver's licence for a car, and should register their interest in the open days on dublinbus.ie.

The company said it was offering new drivers competitive salaries, training, paid maternity leave and other benefits.

Irish motor racing legend Rosemary Smith launched the campaign, and urged women to "give it a spin".

 Dublin's first female bus driver - 1980 

Former racing driver Rosemary Smith at the launch 

"I've never allowed my gender to limit me in what I want to achieve. From being the only woman driver to win the Tulip Rally outright in a Hillman Imp in the 1970s, to being the oldest woman to drive a Formula 1 car a few years ago when I was 79, I’ve always done things which many thought only men could do.

"I think it’s fantastic that Dublin Bus is looking to recruit new female drivers. I encourage every woman, whatever your age, who has ever thought about doing it to register for an open day and give it a spin."

Jennifer Dixon has been a Dublin Bus driver for the past three years, after attending a female recruitment drive in 2016.

Speaking on RTÉ's Ray D'Arcy Show, she said she understands that driving a vehicle the size of a double decker bus can seem daunting, but that it is easier than you think.

She said the training provided is fantastic and that although she was nervous when she first started, she quickly got used to it.

She said some passengers, particularly the older generation, are still surprised to see a female bus driver but that most are very encouraging.