24 June 2021 | Collaboration

Women in ITS told “you’re first class”

The UK’s Intelligent Transport Society’s Women in ITS Group has heard a rousing speech from one of the industry’s most experienced professionals, explaining why they bring fresh thinking into the industry, and that women should be confident in their abilities.

Professor Eric Sampson spoke at the Women in ITS meeting to mark International Women in Engineering Day, explaining how women are now filling top jobs around the world.

“All the top jobs in the Foreign Office, all of the top-notch embassies – The UN, Washington, Berlin, Tokyo, Canberra, Beijing, Moscow, Paris, Rome – they’re all women,” Prof Sampson said. “Next year, the Royal Navy will have its first female admiral. But they don’t tell you that.”

Prof Sampson recounted his own experiences in the Civil Service where he tackled the perceived inequality of job offers between men and women, and realised it was partly because women displayed less bravado than men during interviews. “My experience was that when men come in for the interview, they are terribly full of themselves – totally confident but paint themselves into a corner, and then often collapse dramatically. But women are far more cautious – they see it as a series of elephant traps, very wary. But the real difference is afterwards. You are required to give feedback to the candidates. Men will say, why did you turn me down, but the women’s attitude was, why did I fail and what did I do wrong?”

Prof Sampson explained how tests prove that psychologically, women are better at multitasking and problem solving, and said they have made a major improvement to transport policy as they have risen up the ranks of the Department for Transport. “And if people don’t like it, don’t think you’ve failed,” he concluded – “you’ve just failed to be like them.”

The meeting featured a range of women in ITS who covered key ITS subjects such as GIS and smart mobility as well as a career talk by Dr Ogo Ugboma, Head of Department, Transport Management and Operations, School of Transport and Logistics Lagos State University.

“Once again it was an uplifting meeting in which to be a woman,” commented ITS (UK) Secretary General Jennie Martin (pictured).

“Our Women in ITS Group has grown since its inception, but the key message from each meeting is always the same – that women deserve to be working in this industry and are making a real difference. The old prejudices women faced may not be voiced openly anymore, but confidence to believe you can make a difference is still an issue, and these meetings are important to remind women how good they are.”

The whole event will be available on the ITS (UK) YouTube channel.

Photo – ITS UK.