Women in Mobility: Celebrating Women’s History Month and IWD 2024 at Miovision

By: Miovision Team | Mar 08, 2024
Two women working in mobility

For Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day 2024 on March 8th, the amazing women on the Miovision team have made their voices heard. They graciously gave their time and spoke on various topics related to working as a woman in the mobility sector. 

From their career inspirations to advice for young women looking to follow in their footsteps, they generously shared a wealth of knowledge. Together, they continue to lay the groundwork for positive change in and out of the workplace. 

Keep reading to hear what these women (and a few of their male allies) in mobility had to say! 

Sarah Omara, Software Developer

Sarah Omara, Software Developer

What attracted you to the mobility sector, and how has being a woman influenced your experience?

Being an engineer, I love solving complex problems, and the mobility sector is filled with interesting challenges. Going into my background specifically, when I was in my final years of university I took a slew of different specializations and research-based courses along the lines of artificial intelligence as well as autonomous vehicles. This provided a connection with this technologically advanced transportation industry. 

Now, how does being a woman influence or affect my experience? 

Well, we all know that engineering programs have relatively low numbers when it comes to gender diversity. On average, 22% of engineering program graduates are female. In my program specifically—mechanical engineering—the average is closer to 17%, and we all know how these low numbers roll into the industry. 

So, being a woman motivates and inspires me to continuously give back to the community, whether that’s outreach programs at high schools and universities or volunteering time to inspire the next generation of engineers. Ultimately to empower them to join this industry and allow them to tackle these complex problems altogether.

How does Miovision support the professional development and advancement of women in the company?

There are many ways that Miovision supports women across the organization. In my opinion, the best way, which is coincidentally not very quantifiable, is through its support of culture. Miovision effectively values all of its employees for their work regardless of their background. The culture of this company is phenomenal; it’s very people first. And although we are talking about women specifically in this article, it is important to note that this supportive culture extends to all forms of diversity.

What message or advice would you offer to young women aspiring to enter your field?

I do have some advice and it is threefold. 

First of all, don’t be discouraged if you’re not working directly with a lot of women or if you don’t work with people who look exactly like you—that’s completely okay. 

Secondly, you can find excellent mentors anywhere. There are definitely people out there who want you to succeed and, of course, there are people out there who will help you succeed. Find these mentors—they don’t necessarily have to be the females in your company, they can be anywhere—and hold on to them. 

Lastly, prioritize your output, not just your identity. Of course, your identity is important, but it’s also important to note that on this team we all want the same goal, we all want the same output. So, by prioritizing your output you’re effectively reminding yourself that your value on this team or at this company is what you bring to the table.

How do you think recognizing and celebrating Women in Mobility contributes to fostering a more inclusive and supportive work environment for everyone?

Historically, the voice of this industry was predominantly male. By recognizing women in the mobility sector, we are acknowledging that this voice is changing. So how does this create a more supportive work environment for everyone? Specifically speaking it extends a hand to any woman in this industry that may have been questioning their sense of belonging and reminding them that they also contribute to this voice. More broadly speaking, it gives us an excellent framework for other minorities and other groups that are diversifying this voice.”

IWD quote from Sarah Omara

What are some simple but meaningful gestures or actions men can take to show their support for gender diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

I think we can always practice valuing our teammates for what they bring to the team and give them opportunities to offer up their unique perspectives. This could look like a teammate proposing some new changes to how we communicate. It could look like handling tasks differently. It could be new management styles where we are doing things that we aren’t used to. It’s really just about being adaptive and open-minded and embracing change, giving it some time, and offering our feedback.

Jim Misasi, VP of Engineering

Jim Misasi, VP of Engineering

How do you think diversity, particularly gender diversity, contributes to innovation and problem-solving within Miovision and the industry as a whole?

Women make up 50% of the population so it would be negligent to discount the opinions and ideas of half the people in the world. Gender, ethnicity, age, marital status, etc. will all impact someone’s perspective on a problem or solution. What might be important to me may not be so for someone else.  

Josie Watchorn, HR Programs and Recruitment Specialist

Josie Watchorn, HR Programs and Recruitment Specialist

How businesses can foster gender diversity and inclusivity?

This space can be really complicated when it comes to diversity. We have to have an environment where we can have open and honest conversations, and we have to foster that from the top down as well as across the entirety of the organization to have a foothold to scale in the same way.

We talk about scaling our product roadmaps, scaling our technical suite of solutions, and scaling our brand messages. We have to be able to have conversations about DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) that scale as well. When we think about inclusivity like that there is a space where all of us play a role. Every employee here can really make an impact.

IWD quote from Josie Watchorn

How we can ensure equal access to opportunities for women in male-dominated industries?

There’s sort of two elements here that are important. 

The first when it comes to equal opportunities for women, is the external piece. There’s an element of our recruitment and hiring practices that really matter in ensuring women have a seat at the table. And in that, we have to have education around the fact that diversity in the workplace matters, but diversity is only one piece of the puzzle. There’s actually a lot of research around diversity not working if it’s not followed by inclusion. 

So it’s one thing to sort of focus on those external steps, but it’s another thing to take a look inward and ask questions about the women who are with us already. How are they feeling? Are there programs that are supporting the people who are with us right now in the organization? Do they have a seat at the table? Are they respected? Are the behaviors that may be more embedded in gender inequality being addressed or are they being tolerated? And how do we sort of have a conversation about that?

​​Bridget Cornell, Software Development Manager

Bridget Cornell, Software Development Manager

What attracted you to the mobility sector, and how has being a woman influenced your experience?

I’ve always been interested in smart cars and smart traffic—even more so than smartphones have interested me. In Canada, we have very extensive rules of the road to ensure safety and a good flow of traffic, which in some ways is similar to how a programming language provides rules that a person and a computer can use to come to an agreeable destination together. As communities of people across the country, we put so much effort into standardizing our existing infrastructure. The idea that we could leverage this infrastructure to automate and predict traffic seems like a logical area to put human effort into. 

I think my vision of how things could come together before joining Miovision and learning more about traffic was a little naive and overly ambitious, but my interest has not waned.

How does Miovision support the professional development and advancement of women in the company?

Being a woman in STEM, it can be difficult to advocate for yourself or ask for something that you know would help you advance if you are unsure of the bias that may be with the person who you are requesting it from. At Miovision, people actively work to create safe spaces and are blunt about embracing and celebrating diversity. 

These brave actions and conversations with others have made space for me to be able to practice bravery myself and ask for opportunities that I know will help me in my career. I’m a person who learns more quickly by doing and by talking through things with others, and so I’ve reached out to a number of people at Miovision who I think I can learn from to ask for regular meetings. 

I have several mentors here at Miovision, and I have never been scared of being shot down as a mentee because of some unreasonable bias. We don’t practice shame and blame here, we practice bravery. That keeps a lot of doors open that fear can often close. I think the majority, if not all of us, are aware of this and it makes us protective of our diversity-positive culture, which is beautiful. 

What message or advice would you offer to young women aspiring to enter your field?

Be picky about your workplace. The place you work should make you feel empowered to bring your full self to your job. There are lots of TED Talks and articles on how we have made it commonplace to put on a “work mask” before we start our workdays. That is exhausting and you deserve to work somewhere you are accepted as a person. We are all people working together. 

How do you think recognizing and celebrating Women in Mobility contributes to fostering a more inclusive and supportive work environment for everyone?

Conversations like this absolutely make a difference. The celebration of Women in Mobility creates a solid foundation of safety for people in the company. We’re saying, hey, we’re all people working together, and not only do we enjoy working together, we recognize that diversity makes us stronger. Not having individuals feel they must carry around the weight of putting on a mask at work every day makes our whole team, and by extension each of us, stronger. 

IWD quote from Bridget Cornell

What are some simple but meaningful gestures or actions men can take to show their support for gender diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

Take the time to understand gender diversity and inclusion in the workplace. There are some great articles and TED Talks out there that go into the facts and provide some fantastic guidelines. But I think the biggest thing that matters may be to remember we are all people at the end of the day. We all deserve understanding and compassion and we have different backgrounds that we come from, and that is not only okay but it’s also great.

Jill Jutzi, Vice President, People & Culture

Jill Jutzi, Vice President, People and Culture

How do you think gender diversity contributes to innovation and problem-solving within Miovision and the industry as a whole?

When I started on Miovision, it was a very male-dominated environment, but now I see that we’ve got a ton of women in leadership here who are doing all the right things and pushing for all the right characteristics of what it means to be a strong woman in tech.

What message or advice would you offer to young women aspiring to enter your field?

In tech, problem-solving is everything at the end of the day and we have to be comfortable with the fact that we could make mistakes. We will make mistakes and everybody at this company is okay with that. Everyone is trying to do the best that we can and we need to work together to achieve the right outcomes for the business.

 

Ryan Kraatz, Product Owner

Ryan Kraatz, Product Owner

How does Miovision support the professional development and advancement of women in the company?

I’ve had the privilege of working with a lot of great women at Miovision. They are probably some of my favorite coworkers that I can really rely on to get things done. What we should be doing as a company to help foster more women in the workplace is to invest in our women. Send people to training, trade shows, and conferences and help promote these people. Make sure we are cognisant and intentional in our professional development strategies.

How do you think diversity, particularly gender diversity, contributes to innovation and problem-solving within Miovision and the industry as a whole?

Having more diversity at the company helps with everything. It means we have more points of view, more opinions, more inputs. We experience less echo chamber where having more perspectives helps us solve customer problems and get better products to our users. In a lot of cases, it can help you consider use cases, customers, or particular experiences that you probably wouldn’t have thought of on your own. Getting more input and opinions can help course correct and fix any problems before they end up being a problem for our users.

What are some simple but meaningful gestures or actions men can take to show their support for gender diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

Practice active listening and empathy. As a man, what are you bringing to this? Take the time to examine your own biases, unconscious behaviors, and social programming. How do you behave? Is there a different tone of voice you use with women? Do you assign them different action items in meetings that you might not give to men, or vice versa? Ask those questions of yourself.

Lyne Jacques, Chief Revenue Officer

Lyne Jacques, Chief Revenue Officer

How does Miovision support the professional development and advancement of women in the company?

I am always trying to promote women internally but also to promote employees internally. Fifty percent of the management team I Iead at Miovision have been promoted internally and I am very proud of this. 

I would say that all the women who are at the table I decided to promote myself. I had been looking at some valuable employees who were working in my department and approached them to take a bigger position within the organization because I believed in their talent. Olivia, who is one of our best engineers, is a good example. She was a part of the support team. I felt she was doing an amazing job and I’m super proud that she accepted the challenge of taking on a bigger role. 

I think it’s important to provide diversity of opinion and diversity of thinking, especially in transportation where, according to statistics, the majority of people using public transportation are women. So we believe that if we want to address the transportation customer seriously, we need to approach it from a woman’s perspective because users and decision-makers of transportation are women.

IWD quote from Lyne Jacques

What message or advice would you offer to young women aspiring to enter your field?

Have a voice, speak out, and make sure that you are not afraid of making mistakes. Sometimes we tend to be silent and remain silent because we are afraid of making mistakes and I believe this is the biggest element you need to get rid of when you’re a woman at the table. You need to be willing to take some risks. The risk of failing, the risk of having a bad opinion, the risk of making mistakes. If you’re able to live with that, you can truly have a very strong voice and make a difference in what you do every day.

Olivia Babcock, Solutions Engineer

Olivia Babcock, Solutions Engineer

How does Miovision support the professional development and advancement of women in the company?

Miovision provides all their employees with access to professional development opportunities, whether that’s through taking a course, attending a conference or giving us access to LinkedIn learning. 

In terms of advancement opportunities, there are plenty. It’s a testament to the culture at Mio that it is so normal to see all different types of people (including genders) in all different types of roles, from the C-suite to engineering to marketing. Diversity and inclusion is normal because it’s what we do. It’s not a big show.

What message or advice would you offer to young women aspiring to enter your field?

If this is an industry that you feel could be an interesting career path, I’d encourage you to just dive in ! Start joining groups like ITE, ITS and IMSA that provide their membership with a wealth of knowledge and networking opportunities and meet as many people as you can. 

Show up as your authentic self and don’t be afraid to ask questions. I know it can be intimidating sometimes to be one of the only women in the room but just by showing up you’ll inspire others like yourself to pursue this career as well. 

How do you think recognizing and celebrating Women in Mobility contributes to fostering a more inclusive and supportive work environment for everyone?

An event like this and activities like this just as a reminder that though our workplace is pretty fantastic, not everyone out there is on our level yet so we just need to keep going and being aware.

Sanathan Kassiedass, Product Operations Manager

Sanathan Kassiedass, Product Operations Manager

What message or advice would you offer to young women aspiring to enter your field?

I think about a young woman who is perhaps in university and considering entering this field. My message is that this is very interesting, important work. This is the lifeblood of a city and we need you. You are your own competitive differentiator so we’d encourage you to bring your curiosity and your point of view into everything you do. Don’t just think maybe you have an idea but it’s not the way things are done—we want to hear that idea. Aside from getting the right education in the field, I would also suggest getting involved in advocacy through volunteer and networking opportunities such as WTS International.

Candice Sarnecki, Senior Director, Sales

Candice Sarnecki, Senior Director, Sales

What inspired you to pursue a career in a male-dominated field like transportation technology?

I’ve been in male-dominated industries for probably the better part of my career. When I was a bright-eyed and idealistic undergrad, I had the opportunity to join an urban planning program where I met a really dear friend of mine who is a top planner in the City of Windsor. She ignited the passion in me about how I could influence and change some of the cities that I’ve been a part of—and I’ve lived in a lot of different cities throughout the U.S.

It wasn’t until 26 years later—after I spent 22 years in telecom building a resume and experience in technology—that I got the opportunity to come and join this amazing organization, taking all of that experience and making some of those idealistic ideas I had when I was a lot younger a reality.

Can you share any specific challenges you faced as a woman working in the city mobility sector and how you’ve overcome them?

I haven’t been in mobility for long, but having been in the telecom space it was pretty obvious every time I walked into a room. I was pretty much the only woman at the table or in a meeting in most cases. I was the only senior female sales leader at the table.

For me, it was important to surround myself with really strong women mentors who were going to challenge me, were incredibly smart, and weren’t going to let me off the hook and shrink into the background. But it was also important for me to seek out some of the strongest men in leadership positions that we’re going to equally challenge me and make me a better person. By doing that I’ve been able to make sure that my voice never shakes no matter how nervous I might be walking into a room. It’s forced me to pull up to the table and share my ideas.

What message or advice would you offer to young women aspiring to enter your field or pursue leadership positions?

Over my career, I’ve had some pretty amazing women who have given me some great advice. One of the few pieces that has stuck with me is: always be authentic. Never be somebody that you’re not and never apologize for who you are.

Karli Jensen, Director of Software Development

Karli Jensen, Director of Software Development

Can you share any mentors or role models who have inspired and supported you in your career journey, and how they’ve influenced your professional growth?

I’m part of a women and leadership group that I found at a key time in my career. I had transitioned from an individual contributor role into management and at some point I felt like I was drowning. So I got a lot of books on leadership and they had the great side effect of shaping me to be a better leader, but they didn’t actually help shake that feeling of drowning. As part of this group though, I had the opportunity to share my struggles, talk about my challenges, and get help from the other people in the group. It was through this that I managed to finally shake that feeling.

Now, I have male mentors in other industries and from other career levels that I take input from as well. I think it’s really important to have a wide range of people that we get our ideas from. It’s definitely helped me to grow faster and in ways I wouldn’t have thought of before.

Can you tell us how women are shaping mobility’s future?

I am honored and privileged to work with the impressive women in this group; I see a lot of people bringing bold ideas to make mobility better. The ideas from the women and the men in this group push innovation in this industry further and help build better communities.

IWD quote from Karli Jensen

Celebrating Women in Mobility All Year Round

While IWD and Women’s History Month are great opportunities to elevate female voices, it only represents one of the 365 days in the year. The amazing women on the Miovision team—along with those around the world—do great work year-round! 

At Miovision, we’re committed to giving everyone opportunities to express themselves and do meaningful work. We wouldn’t be where we are today without these women, and we can’t wait to see how they continue paving the way for change. They make our team stronger and set an inspiring example for women in mobility and beyond. 

Thank you for all that you do!