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Taking a Stand for Women

By Indu Vijayan

As the senior technical product manager at an autotech startup, I am an anomaly. I work in an industry with very little gender diversity, and I am typically the only woman in technical meetings. Although I have a seat at the table, it’s high time other women do too.

That’s why I am a founding member of Women in Autonomy.

Women in Autonomy was borne out of the women at my company, AEye, who — in talking about the lack of gender diversity in this industry — decided the best way to address the problem is to be part of the solution.

Back in 2014, Mary Barra made headlines when she was named CEO of General Motors, becoming the first woman to run a major automotive company. According to Catalyst, however, more than half of the top 20 companies in the automotive industry have no women on their executive teams. And it’s not just a lack of gender diversity at the C-Level — women make up a mere 16% of all workers in the automotive industry.

Our goal is empowerment. Through regular events and meet-ups in San Francisco, we hope to inspire a new, more inclusive, generation of automotive leaders. Our events will have female executives, engineers, policy makers, and academics weigh in on topical issues and address common challenges facing autonomous driving. We created Women in Autonomy as a means for women in this male-dominated space to finally be heard and represented — through networking, advocacy, education, and the exchange of ideas.

Our first event, Women in Autonomy: Driving the Future of Transportation features an executive panel made up entirely of women: Nauto COO Jennifer Haroon, Designated Driver CEO Manuela Papadopol, and DeepMap COO Wei Luo. By having an all female panel, we hope to elevate all women in the industry and encourage more inclusive dialogues.

So far, the reception to Women in Autonomy has been overwhelming, with our first event selling out in a matter of days. Clearly, I am not alone in wanting to hear from the brilliant female innovators and influencers in this space, and to meet more like-minded women seeking a place at the table.

I hope you’ll join me in supporting Women in Autonomy. It’s time for change, and I’m proud to be part of the solution.

Indu Vijayan is a specialist in systems, software, algorithms and perception for self driving-cars. As the Head of Product Management at AEye, she leads software development for the company’s leading-edge artificial perception system for autonomous vehicles.



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