Where do women fit in the automotive industry? In every possible space – including those we’ve yet to invent.
Stories of resiliency, innovation, and collaboration filled a sold-out room during WEtech Alliance’s inaugural Women Driven Mobility YQG Breakfast this past Tuesday, October 25th at Caesar’s Windsor.
The event featured a networking breakfast followed by a panel discussion with “Women Driven Mobility: Rethinking the Way the World Moves” authors, Katelyn Shelby Davis and Kristin Shaw. The Michigan-based authors discussed what inspired the book and how we can work to raise up female leaders within the industry.
Davis and Shaw were approached to write the book in early 2020 and began their research by reaching out to their social media networks, asking if there were any “must know” women working in the automotive industry. They were quickly flooded with responses.
“The whole point of this was to elevate more voices.”
“I think it was then that we realized there was this huge void in the narrative,” says Davis, a Communications and Marketing Lead at Cavnue. “Lifting that curtain a bit became our responsibility.”
“We had a huge list of women who were brought to our attention and we wanted to listen to them and learn from them,” explains Shaw, Communications and Urban Planning Professional at WSP. “During the pandemic, it was a really big light just to have that network of women and everybody on their own path but really inspiring others in the work that they’re doing.”
“The whole point of this was to elevate more voices,” adds Davis.
The pair shared some of the case studies featured in the book and how women are shaping the future of automobility through eleven vital pillars of the industry including design and engineering, marketing, policy and legislation, and infrastructure.
“Throughout the process, we were very intentional to make sure the book was coming from a diverse perspective; speaking to the different roles and points in careers was very important,” explains Shaw. “Also, different ethnic and racial backgrounds and diversity of where people were coming from geographically because we know (mobility) needs vary based on where a community is.”
The event culminated with a panel discussion featuring four local women leading the way in mobility and automotive innovation in Windsor-Essex: Nicole Matchett, Owner & President, Taurean EV Charging Solutions Inc., Dr. Ikjot Saini, Co-Director SHIELD Automotive Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence, Shawna Boakes, P.Eng., Executive Director of Operations, City of Windsor, and Mursal Amin, Member of Young Women in Motion, WEST of Windsor Inc.
“Without the different lived experiences, there will be no movement. It’s when we include everybody and everybody has a seat at the table, that is when we see the change.”
The women discussed the importance of bringing a female perspective to the table and spoke on a variety of topics including road safety, inclusivity, accessibility, the climate crisis, and automotive cyber security.
“We need women, we need non-binary people, we need all these diverse voices at the table and have their values considered and implemented into all these changes that are happening in the industry,” says Matchett. “Without the different lived experiences, there will be no movement. It’s when we include everybody and everybody has a seat at the table, that is when we see the change.”
All attendees also received a copy of “Women Driven Mobility: Rethinking the Way the World Moves”, with the opportunity to have it signed by the Katelyn and Kristen during a post-panel networking session.
The event was truly a collaborative effort, powered by presenting sponsor, St. Clair College Research and Innovation and supporting partners, Invest WindsorEssex, the Government of Canada, Ontario Centres of Innovation, Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network.
“Why Highlight Women in Mobility?”
With the billion-dollar investments flooding into our area over the next several years, our region will play a critical role in the future of mobility and electric vehicles.
During this transition, we have a unique opportunity to course correct the automotive industry and intentionally design a future that is inclusive of all perspectives, while achieving equitable environmental, social, and economic benefits.
WEtech Alliance has recently hired a Women in Mobility Coordinator, Nicole Taylor, to support further research, programs, and events like this one to keep the conversation going as Windsor-Essex becomes the Automobility Capital of Canada.
For more information or to share ideas on Women in Mobility, please contact Nicole Taylor at email@example.com. Learn more about the recently launched Women in Mobility Peer Group.
Jennifer Brignall-Strong’s media career spans over 15 years, with experience in marketing, promotions, copywriting, and radio production. Her work has been featured in multiple local publications, including The DRIVE Magazine and Windsor Body. As an active member of the community, Jen also volunteers her time as a member of the Board of Directors for the Sexual Assault Crisis Centre. She is also a regular contributor to AM800 CKLW and Tourism Windsor-Essex and runs Tailgate Takeout; a local food blog showcasing the best places to eat and explore in YQG. Through her work, she hopes to showcase the region as an amazing place to work, play, and live