By Indu Vijayan
Founder, Women in Autonomy
Three years ago, the world’s largest consumer electronics show, CES, was digging itself out from a public backlash over its all-male keynote line-up, while many in the tech industry bemoaned the prevalence of “manels” - those expert panels conspicuously missing one key ingredient - women. Yes, there was a “limited pool” of high-level women in tech, as the Consumer Technology Association pointed out, but there were also systemic issues that - if left unaddressed - would perpetuate the lack of diversity both at these types of events, and on leadership teams industrywide.
Women in Autonomy was founded in the midst of this environment, with a mission to educate, equip and empower women in the automotive and autotech industries so their voices can be better heard and represented.
Why automotive? That’s the space where I have spent my career - most often as the only technical woman in the room - developing software and systems to enable autonomous driving. An industry where, as recently as 2020, Deloitte reported that 90% of women felt they were under-represented in leadership positions, with 42% believing an industry bias towards men still exists for these positions, driven by organizational cultural norms. My colleagues at AEye and I formed Women in Autonomy to chip away at those statistics, believing the best way to address the problem was to be part of the solution.
My industry is making progress, with car makers like Stellantis launching corporate programs to promote leadership and diversity, and organizations like MobilityXX challenging the industry with concrete initiatives to increase the number of women in the transportation industry by 10% over the next 10 years. But we can do so much more.
At Women in Autonomy, we’ve come to realize that automotive is just the tip of the iceberg. We are seeing the impact of autonomous technologies reverberate beyond automotive to industries like agriculture, logistics and delivery, intelligent transportation systems (ITS), commercial freight transport, and mining, and we want to be part of the solution in those industries, too.
That’s why, in 2022, Women in Autonomy is expanding its mission to embolden women building autonomous technology across all industries - from automotive and mobility to industrial, robotics, smart cities and beyond, to become leaders and change-makers, ensuring female voices are better heard and represented.
You will continue to see us host female-led industry events, lead professional development discussions, provide mentorship opportunities, and place female speakers at industry events. But this is our moment to expand our reach and include more women - women who are at the forefront of autonomous initiatives across industries.
In 2021, for the first time, CES had more female keynote speakers than male; women-founded startup funding broke all-time records, and Nasdaq began requiring companies on its tech-heavy exchange to have at least one female board member, or disclose why they don’t.
We believe the time for change is now, and that we can make a difference. We hope that you’ll join us on this mission to include, empower, and embolden even more women building autonomous technologies.
Let’s accelerate the future, together.
Women in Autonomy
Accelerate the Future!