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SmartCitiesWorld talks to the founders of the Women in Mobility Group’s London network about why the initiative is necessary and how it plans to boost diversity in the UK transport sector.
The Women in Mobility (WiM) Group is expanding to the UK, starting in London, aiming to improve the participation and visibility of women in the transport industry.
Women in Mobility, founded in Germany in 2015, has 3,200 members globally from the public and private sectors and academia, with most in Germany and Switzerland so far.
The UK launch represents the first English language WiM group and is founded by Annie Reddaway, business analyst, mobility at AppyWay; Olga Anapryenka, senior consultant for new mobility at Steer; and Sandra Witzel, head of marketing at MaaS platform provider SkedGo.
The London group is described as an “open network”, rather than a fixed location, and will focus initially on organising events in central London for members to network, learn and exchange ideas. The network is open to people at all career stages, from interns to C-Level representatives.
"The group is dedicated to improving the visibility and impact of women in the industry."
“The group is dedicated to improving the visibility and impact of women in the industry. A key focus is the promotion of women in leadership or other positions, as public speakers or experts within the industry media. We also provide a platform for women to share their experience, stories and opportunities,” the founders said in an emailed joint statement to SmartCitiesWorld, adding that men are also welcome to participate.
According to government figures, just 18 per cent of the transport sector workforce overall in the UK are women.
“The mobility sector is varied and includes a lot of areas that traditionally are very male-oriented, including STEM,” the founders said. “Work is being done both to encourage more girls to enter into these sectors at school-level and to improve working culture. Having greater visibility for women in the industry and also in education, for example by doing talks in schools, can demonstrate there are roles women can excel in. Our work is about increasing awareness and actually showing what it is like to be a woman who works in mobility.”
They noted an increase in women represented in meetings and at transport events over the last few years and said this has been aided by growing efforts from organisations and by a “very vocal backlash” – from women and men – against events with all-male line-ups.
“A lot of women in the industry are prepared to recommend other women for media interviews, speaking opportunities and jobs. This is where WiM London plans to play a significant role,” the founders said.
"Our work is about increasing awareness and actually showing what it is like to be a woman who works in mobility."
They also noted the importance of broader diversity in the smart cities and transport space, saying: “The perspective of the diverse needs of people using mobility and city services is crucial – those with disabilities, those who need to make multiple trips (women more often do multiple stop-offs in one trip), parents, the elderly, the commuter. Without a balanced workforce, important considerations can be overlooked. For example, a routing app may suggest routes at night that make women feel unsafe, or that someone in a wheelchair may have difficulties accessing.
“Diversity is key – it offers a variety of perspectives, bringing together skills and experiences and encouraging innovation.”
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