Katelyn Davis and Kristin Shaw have created a platform for women breaking the glass ceiling in the mobility and sustainability space.
These award-winning environmental advocates are co-authors of Women Driven Mobility, a book that elevates stories of women reimagining transportation.
EXP: How did you find yourself in this niche space providing women in sustainability with a place to have their work and voices recognized?
KS: I’d say I’m aggressively curious, and the feminist movement has been a part of my ethos for as long as I can remember. I am comfortable questioning the status quo, and in Detroit – where the auto is king, I often find myself problem-solving how women can fit into both these anchor industries and our legacy infrastructure. I have been volunteering over the past decade in the environmental space which has crystalized the equity gaps between demographics, in almost every area – and if I can have a hand in unraveling that, I want to help.
“I’ve often been the youngest person at a table of men, and even when I felt like I had a voice, I felt like it was never loud enough. This experience is not unique to me, and I started having conversations about how to elevate women in spaces traditionally owned by men.” -KS
KD: I’m a storyteller. As a public relations and communications professional, I have spent my career helping companies tell their story and transition into the future, driven by new technological and societal changes. In over a decade working in the automotive and mobility industry, I have seen how few female leaders there are, and how even fewer are recognized publicly for the contributions they’ve made. I’ve had the pleasure of working with and meeting some amazing women across this industry who are working to make transportation more equitable and sustainable and I knew I was just scratching the surface. After realizing that Kristin and I were in a position to build a platform to tell their stories, it began to feel like our calling.
EXP: What is your main goal for publishing the book?
KS + KD: The main goal of Women Driven Mobility is to elevate the stories of women who are reimagining transportation by bringing diverse viewpoints to the table to create more accessible, equitable, and sustainable options for mobility. The book leads with case studies and innovations functioning as a resource for anyone in the industry to learn from others and foster change in their own communities.
EXP: Where can we get a copy?
KS + KD: Women Driven Mobility will go on sale later this year in partnership with the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). The best way to purchase the book is to visit WomenDrivenMobility.com and sign up to receive email alerts on our progress and sale date.
EXP: As you interviewed these women, what resonated most about their stories?
KS: How hard they work, and how much love is behind that. One woman shared that as a professor, other (male) professors would advise her on how to teach her class, assuming she was male because of her name. She shared that they told her to be more straightforward with an all male class, but to be softer with women. She was teaching atmospheric physics – and they told her to be softer towards women. I’m not a scientist, but it doesn’t seem like something that should be softened. It has been windows into these types of experiences that have made me especially proud to be helping share the work of these women. While experiencing YES a few times has led them to successful careers, they have been heavily outweighed by NO, and the dismissals and rejections that come along with that. The energy necessary to push ahead can be defeating – and still, they push and get the work done. These stories wouldn’t exist without women being told NO first.
KD: We selected case studies that left impressive, positive impacts on the community, each one unique and noteworthy. Quite a few times women expressed surprise that we wanted to include them and their work and that we thought their projects were noteworthy as a resource for the industry as a whole. Most had never been considered a thought leader or had been recognized for a project they had dedicated endless hours (or years) developing. They were humble in how they talked about their projects, always putting the work first and their involvement second.
“I often found myself wondering if there would have been this level of modesty if I was to ask their male counterparts.” – KD
EXP: What is the future of mobility for the Motor City?
KS+KD: Although the greater part of last year has been spent working with women across the country, the projects and innovations that we hold near and dear to our hearts are the ones that are coming out of Detroit and, more broadly, Michigan. No where else in the world is there a denser cluster of companies, organizations, educational institutions, and testing than in this region. This unique ecosystem reimagines the way the world will move – from vehicles and infrastructure to legislation and engineering. With the support of the industry and the state, our region has the ability to function as a testbed for some of the world’s most innovative technologies including connected and automated vehicles, micromobility, alternative urban transit programs, drone technology, and much, much more.
EXP: Mogo, People Mover, Scooter, QLine, or Bus?
KS: People are going to come for me on this one, but… QLine. I have lived, worked, and attended school along Woodward Avenue, so I was one of the few people for whom the QLine was a solution. I also have a bit of nostalgia for it, watching it be constructed, and being able to ride it before it opened was kind of special for me.
KD: I feel like I also have an “unpopular opinion” here. From day one, I have been a big supporter and user of the city’s scooters. They offer a convenient mode of micromobility for moving around the city, especially during the work day. I love being able to hop on a scooter and zoom off (always ending my trip by responsibly parking the scooter in a place that doesn’t detract from the flow of sidewalk traffic).
EXP: What are your favorite restaurants in the city that are eco-friendly and/or female-owned?
KS: Lady of the House (insert broken heart emoji), Grey Ghost, Selden Standard, and my favorite bar with sustainability initiatives is Kiesling. Another favorite spot is Bikes and Coffee because nothing is better than merging coffee and micromobility!
KD: I love a good, simple breakfast so one of my favorite go-to restaurants in the city is Brooklyn Street Local. It’s female-owned and specializes in fresh, locally-sourced ingredients using environmentally sustainable practices. From vegan poutine to banana walnut pancakes, it’s all absolutely delicious.
EXP: What are your thoughts on equity and inclusion for women in the workplace?
KD: I feel like we’ve been having the conversation around equity and inclusion and developing plans for a while. Now it’s time to begin taking action on those plans and showing results.