International Women in Engineering Day: Patsy Brady's Story

June 23, 2020

“Being an engineer at Network Rail opens the doors to so many opportunities for men and for women. We’re all in it together."


Caption: Patsy Brady, Network Rail graduate.


Caption: Picture from Women in Rail's Big Diversity Challenge 2019: Patsy Brady shown bottom right.

Today (Tuesday 23 June) is International Women in Engineering Day (INWED). The annual event, led by the Women in Engineering Society, aims to raise the profile of women engineers and encourage more people to consider engineering as a profession for all.     

Network Rail is working hard to ensure our workforce better represents our customers and society as a whole. Women now represent nearly 25 per cent of both our Board and executive leadership committee. We’re also growing gender and ethnicity diversity in our early entrant programmes, especially our graduate programmes.

Patsy Brady is undertaking Network Rail’s Mechanical Engineering graduate scheme, a varied scheme that supports graduates through four rotational placements and offers the opportunity to be involved in some of the biggest engineering projects in Britain. This is Patsy's story as a woman in the engineering industry. 

Early Career:

“Straight out of school I studied for a degree in maths – it’s logical and there’s always a problem to solve! I wanted to be a maths teacher, but I happened to date an engineer and then suddenly I was surrounded by them! It soon became clear that that’s what I wanted to do, so I went on to study for a Masters in Mechanical Engineering.”

What has your experience been like so far as a woman in engineering?:

“I love it. It can be difficult to build a rapport with other colleagues in a team where you’re the only woman, but my advice is not to shy away. Contribute, participate and be your own person and you can find things in common with anyone.

“There is a tendency for men to want to be chivalrous around me which is flattering but unnecessary. I’m just as capable as everyone else and I like to make sure my colleagues know that!”

Go For It:

“If you enjoy solving problems, working with people and seeing a physical output for what you do, I definitely recommend engineering – it’s so broad that you’re almost certain to find something you enjoy, just go for it.

“The next step is for engineering to be better represented in schools. I’d say from 14 onwards students should be exploring careers like this. They need exposure early on.” 

Opportunities and Achievements: 

“I’ve had some exciting opportunities since joining Network Rail. Last year I submitted a paper for the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s Early Career Professionals Best Railway Paper 2019 competition, which I won! The topic was ‘How Engineering and Technology is improving the safety of the Railway’. I also got a seat on the UK’s first all-female operated train journey and participated in Women in Rail’s Big Diversity Challenge 2019 – a competition focused on proving the benefits of gender balance in the workplace.

“Being an engineer at Network Rail opens the doors to so many opportunities for men and for women. We’re all in it together. I’m looking forward to the day when we don’t have to talk about women in engineering anymore.”

For more information about Network Rail's graduate schemes, please visit the Network Rail website. To find out more about Network Rail's commitment to Diversity and Inclusion, Network Rail colleagues can visit MyConnect and those outside of Network Rail can visit the Network Rail website.