Don’t stop moving
Hello and welcome to issue 66, our Women in Transport and Automotive issue. If you get people talking about ‘travel’ it’s all romantic notions of self-discovery and ‘finding yourself’, but if you hear about ‘transport’ it’s generally framed in the mundane here and now, and this needs to change. I can’t think of many greater blessings than to be able to journey around freely, whether it’s by car, train, bus, plane or whatever and there’s an increasingly important role for women to play in keeping us all moving.
Two very special things have happened this issue. I’m delighted to say that we’ve started working with Arnold Clark as partners and sponsors of this edition, as well as them becoming our preferred car supplier. We hear from Kesley Pexton, one of their automotive spray painters in Glasgow. She tells us how she took a chance to pursue a career doing something ‘unusual’ for a woman, but she’s never looked back and this is now the new normal. Barriers. Broken.
Also in the automotive space, I’m proud to say that Womanthology is now the media partner for Storm Racing, who we first featured back in June after their Women in Motorsport Award win. I want to show Womanthology’s support to this amazing all-girl team. Emily Chesters, the team’s manager, made the important point that as there’s currently less girls in STEM, the team can use that to their advantage. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and kicking as Emily has to have the skills to pay the bills for the team, highlighting the importance of an understanding of commerciality for the team of sixth formers as they set about designing and building their own car.
Remind yourself to be yourself
I also spoke to Bianca Orrey, managing director of electric vehicle supply expert EV OneStop. Like Emily, Bianca has worked out how to use being in a minority and turn it to her advantage. Make yourself memorable to the people you meet by being engaging and knowing your stuff back to front and inside out, and most importantly, just being yourself. If it’s your passion then let it shine through and people will appreciate you all the more for it. Fellow entrepreneur, Pauline Dawes of SOMI Trailers, makes a similar point.
Without fail I learn something new from pretty much every contributor I speak to. It’s not until I’m sat editing everything together that the stories start to fit together like some incredible puzzle. I suppose if I had to compare it to something transport related it would be like a London Underground map. There’s one bit of wisdom over here that will take my thinking off in one direction, and then another over here that will get me thinking about something else entirely, but they’re all somehow interconnected, but not always in obvious ways.
Caroline Pidgeon, Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee reminds us about the importance of ensuring women’s voices are heard as transport users (so in terms of accessibility, safety and access to fair deals on fares), which in turn links to support for the female staff on the London transport network.
The power to move people
Following on from this, Camilla Ween, Chair of the Women’s Transportation Seminar, talks about transport as a way of “repairing urban fabric” and “social inequality”. Transport is quite literally has the power to move people, women and men, and to improve their circumstances and life chances at the same time. It’s a great leveller.
Sharon Kindleysides from Kapsch TrafficCom shares the way tech-based intelligent transport systems have a role in helping to ensure that travellers have the best options open to them. The internet of things (IoT) and mobile connectivity means (in theory at least) that we should never have to miss a train or get caught up in a traffic jam again. Our devices can help us avoid such unnecessary time wasting tedium. More broadly, tech can also keep us safe.
Confidence follows passion
Kiah Erlich is director of Honeywell’s Flight Support Services, where she creates technology to help pilots fly more efficiently and safely. She makes the point that more connectivity means that there is a renaissance in aviation as the process of the development of technology is getting faster than ever. Kiah originally started out as a pilot but in addition to being able to fly planes she’s now learning to code. She talks about the link between coding and creativity. She also observes that “confidence follows passion”.
In gender equality circles we are forever telling girls and women that they need to learn to be more confident, but actually if you’re in an environment where you’re free to follow your passions unhindered, then confidence is a happy by-product, rather than something illusive to be chased. The more I think about this, the more I believe it to be true.
We’ve got all these amazing women, and more. I hope you enjoy reading.