Lauren Sager Weinstein is chief data officer at Transport for London (TfL), where she is responsible for driving decision-making and improved customer services through provision of data products and services. Lauren oversees TfL’s business intelligence / data science strategy, TfL’s data technical platform development, as well as support for data products and services. Lauren has worked for TfL in various roles since 2002 and before this she was employed by the City of Los Angeles and the RAND Corporation, a non-profit institution that helps improve policy and decision making through research and analysis.
On 21st March 2018, Transport for London (TfL) launched a children’s competition with British book printing institution Clays as part of the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s major new campaign, #BehindEveryGreatCity and Lauren Sager Weinstein, TfL’s chief data officer was at the launch event.
My role at Transport for London
I’m the chief data officer (CDO) at Transport for London (TfL). My role is to help TfL use the data we have to plan and run our services better for London.
I’ve been working at TfL for fifteen years and have had the opportunity to work on some fantastic projects. I was part of the team that developed and introduced ticketing using contactless payment cards on our transport network. I analysed travel patterns during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and I recently led a ground-breaking data pilot looking at how we could use depersonalised Wi-Fi Connection information to understand travel patterns across our London Underground network and within stations and on trains.
I love my job as chief data officer at TfL. My team gathers the massive amount of data from systems such as our ticketing network and our train and bus location systems. We take this data and transform it back into better-designed routes and into tailored information that we provide to customers. I lead a brilliant team – made up of software developers, data scientists, and data managers – who understand the potential for data to be made useful so it can improve Londoners’ daily lives.
Launching a children’s competition to raise awareness of women in the transport industry
The transport industry is facing a skills shortage though, and this is partly because there is not enough understanding about what the sector and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects in particular can offer in terms of employment.
It is also because people are put off by the common misconception that the transport sector mainly offers meaningful career opportunities for men. While it is true that the industry still needs to improve in terms of diversity, there are already countless examples of inspirational women working within it.
This is why we have launched a children’s competition with British book printing institution, Clays. The competition, which includes three different age categories, will ask London school children to use their imaginations to draw a picture or write a story that focuses on how these inspirational women at TfL keep London moving.
From the engineers who fix and control traffic lights and keep the trains running, to the designers who imagine what our streets, bridges and trains will look like – there are a range of different roles to inspire their imaginations.
Bringing winning stories to life in a limited-edition book
Once the images and stories have been submitted, they will be passed to our judging panel of acclaimed authors, which includes Waterstones’ Children’s Laureate, Lauren Child MBE, How to Train your Dragon author Cressida Cowell, and Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World writer, Kate Pankhurst.
The panel will choose the winning entries, which will need to be submitted before Sunday 13th May. The winners will see their stories turned into a limited-edition book, printed by Clays – with the winning drawing featured on the front cover. They will also get the opportunity to take part in a behind-the-scenes tour of TfL and visit the factory where the book is made.
A vast array of opportunities
It is vital that young people, regardless of their gender, realise that there is a vast array of opportunities out there for them. Careers in STEM subjects include the doctors and physicist roles that we often first think about, but there are also designers and software developers, for example. And these jobs can offer a great opportunity for creative work.
I remember a fantastic course I took in university, by Professor David Billington, called Structures in the Urban Environment, which taught the introductory principles behind skyscrapers and bridges, and showed how this infrastructure can be beautiful as well as functional. His enthusiasm was infectious, and he inspired many students to think how STEM work can be transformative. There are many other types of non-STEM roles in transport too, so it’s important to recognise the contributions of these roles as well.
Women in Transport
Our work is so rewarding, and so important, that we need talent from all backgrounds and perspectives to contribute in transport careers. This is also why I was one of the founding members of Women in Transport, which is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to empower women working in transport by helping them maximise their potential through building up strong networks and encouraging professional development. We encourage women and men to join as members to advance the cause of supporting women in the transport industry.
Also this year, the Mayor of London’s #BehindEveryGreatCity campaign aims to bring Londoners together to celebrate how women of all backgrounds make London the great city it is, and to take new steps to tackle gender inequality in the capital. There will plenty of opportunities and events to get involved with, so keep an eye out as we commemorate the centenary of women first getting the vote.
I love the fact that in my work I get to shape the City of London! I hope that this competition helps spread this message to children that working in transport offers them the chance to make a real impact on people every day.
#BehindEveryGreatCity there are incredible, pioneering women doing amazing work. Check out our very own @laurenrsw who is No.10 in the @EveningStandard’s @TfL pioneering women 🙌🙌🙌🙌#WomeninTransport #visibilitymatters https://t.co/f34HKzyJQ0
— Women in Transport (@transportwm) March 9, 2018
If you know a child interested in entering, the competition briefs and terms and conditions can be found here: tfl.gov.uk/women-in-transport-competition. For more information about Women in Transport, please visit https://www.womenintransport.com/