Joy de Cosson (née Josaphine Mary Margaret Lloyd) was passionate about women having equal opportunities, specifically in the transportation sector.

Joy de Cosson Scholarship helps women pursue careers in transportation

March 26, 2021
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Women in SFU’s Urban Studies Program have a chance to further advance their studies and careers thanks to the Women in Transportation Joy de Cosson Graduate Scholarship in Sustainable Transportation. The scholarship recognizes and provides funding to outstanding female graduate students in Urban Studies that are interested in pursuing careers in transportation—a sector where female professionals are underrepresented.

Joy de Cosson was born in Wimbledon, U.K. in 1918, the youngest of five children. Soon after World War II broke out in 1939, Joy joined the Special Operations Executive (SOE), a covert force established by Sir Winston Churchill. One of the SOE’s primary goals was to build, arm and train an underground organization of resistance fighters in Nazi occupied areas of Europe.

All who served in the SOE were trained in combat and more importantly, radio operations, which was the key to organizing espionage activity. This involved agents setting up communications in the field to send coded signals back to the headquarters in London where Joy was stationed. In the early years of the war leading up to the British Army’s evacuation at Dunkirk, SOE disrupted communications and targeted transportation routes and bridges in France. 

Many of the SOE agents were women as they were considered less likely to raise suspicion and therefore could travel more freely in occupied territories. Perhaps this is where Joy’s vision for women in transportation started.

Joy never spoke of what she did during the war, saying that she was prohibited by the Official Secrets Act from saying anything about her work for 50 years. 

In 1949 Joy and her husband Naval Commander Charles Anthony de Cosson moved to Canada after discovering she was pregnant so that they could provide greater opportunities for their family and future. Joy and Charles had three children and when the kids started school, Joy went back to university to become a preschool teacher. Joy passed away in 2006 at age 86.

The Women in Transportation Seminar (WTS) Canadian Education Foundation, an organization dedicated to building the future of transportation through the global advancement of women, has prioritized scholarship support for female Canadian students in the field of transportation since 2003. Chapter events were the primary source of fundraising, until a very generous bequest from the estate of Joy de Cosson significantly increased the donation base. WTS’s $30,000 endowment to Simon Fraser University provides funding for the Joy de Cosson Graduate Scholarship in Sustainable Transportation to be awarded annually.

As ably demonstrated by Joy de Cosson who took up a challenging non-traditional role in her early twenties, women have the capacity, courage and competency to participate fully in every aspect of our society. The scholarship awarded in her name will ensure that many more women have the means and the support to take their rightful place in the ranks of transportation professionals in Canada.