Fewer than 15 per cent of all engineers in Britain are female. Bermudian Honor Brady is one of them.
She completed a four-year master’s degree in civil engineering at University College London in 2012 and achieved a “major career aspiration” last year when she became chartered. She’s also the face of a video campaign by her employer, Transport for London, to get more women interested in the industry.
Q: How did you come to be featured in the video?
A: I joined the Engineering Ambassador Programme when I joined Transport for London. This programme raises awareness of careers in engineering, challenges stereotypes about these careers and targets the skills’ gap and gender disparity the transport industry is facing. I was contacted to see if I would be interested in doing this video which of course I was.
Q: How long have you worked there?
A: I joined Transport for London in 2012 on a graduate programme. I worked as a traffic control engineer from 2012 to 2015 and then moved into the role I am now in which is a traffic design engineer.
Q: Exactly what is it that you do?
A: I work in a team that develops highway schemes across London. At the moment, there is a big focus to develop schemes that encourage active travel — such as walking or cycling — as part of people’s daily commutes, with safety at the heart of each design. This is to improve the health of Londoners and forms part of the Mayor of London’s public health initiative for “healthy streets”. Most recently, I’ve been designing a new cycle route in East London that will link two major cycle superhighways together, which has been exciting to work on.
Q: You mentioned the gender disparity in the transport industry. Were you in the minority in your classes?
A: I was very fortunate when studying at University College London to be in a class where there were 40 per cent women to 60 per cent men.
My experience of studying engineering was one that was very challenging academically, but also extremely supportive. On a wider scale in the UK, the Women in Engineering Society reported that only 42 per cent of girls aged 14 to 16 would consider a career in engineering compared to 66 per cent of boys. By ages 16 to 18, this statistic falls to 25.4 per cent of girls compared to 51.9 per cent of boys. When it comes to those in the workforce, only 12.37 per cent of all engineers in the UK are women — which is an awfully low statistic. There certainly still is work that needs to be done to encourage women to consider engineering as a career and raising awareness at an early age of the possibilities of engineering as a career is a really good start.
Q: What is being done to encourage that?
A: London Transport Museum does a huge amount of work to change perceptions about careers in transport and engineering from an early age through its Enjoyment to Employment programme.
This starts with family activities and sessions for primary school pupils, through to Inspire Engineering sessions for secondary school students and a Route into Work scheme which gives young people aged 16 to 25, who have never considered a career in engineering or transport before, the employability skills they need to pursue apprenticeships and entry-level jobs in the industry.
It has had amazing results where, in 2019-20, 90 per cent of secondary pupils have a positive view of engineering after taking part compared to 68 per cent before the session. They are able to reach around 65,000 children, young people and teachers which is a huge base to encourage young people to consider pursuing engineering as a career. Furthermore, Transport for London employs the best and brightest and is committed to encouraging more women into engineering to help keep London moving.
Q: Have you seen significant difference in traffic since Covid-19?
A: Covid-19 had a huge impact on Transport for London with passenger numbers on buses and the Underground down by around 90 per cent at the peak of lockdown. Even now, Tube ridership is just 20 per cent of what it was last year. As a direct result the mayor launched a bold new street space plan to overhaul London’s streets with a hope that cycling could increase tenfold and walking fivefold post-lockdown. This has included the transformation of London’s roads to be fast-tracked, giving space to new cycle lanes and wider pavements to enable social-distancing, which I have been working on. This is to provide temporary bike routes and more space for walking to reduce pressure on the Tube and buses which will provide clean, green and sustainable travel to be at the heart of London’s recovery.
I have been working on fast-tracking a new cycle using temporary materials which has been very exciting to be part of.
Q: Where was the video shown?
A: The video was part of LTM’s celebration of Inspire Engineering week and their Enjoyment to Employment scheme. This was done digitally and the video was shared on their website (bit.ly/3fJzrLn) and across LTM channels: Facebook (London Transport Museum); Twitter (@Ltmuseum); Instagram (@Ltmuseum); LinkedIn (https://bit.ly/32jZKDV).