‘Take inspiration from the successful women already in mobility and follow your dreams!’ this is the view of four students at the Technical University of Iasi in Romania, who were finalists in the European Mobility Challenge organised by ERTICO earlier this year. These motivated women are studying a range of topics related to computer science, information technology, telecommunications, big data and AI. Inspired by the desire to make the world better, faster and more connected, on a daily basis they search for new sustainable and innovative solutions for society. Currently, they are working on a safe driving vehicle project to create a better and safer life for the future of mobility.

What fascinates you most about smart mobility? 

Andrea-Iulia Patachi: For me, it’s connectivity, which I believe offers numerous possibilities to increase user safety and comfort in road traffic. With all the technology available, you are able to have all the information you require before deciding on your next move.  I am currently working in the area of smart infrastructure, where I try to predict the future behaviour of traffic participants. This technology contributes so much towards a future of smarter mobility.

Iulia Onica: Society is evolving so much in the direction of smart mobility. I think that people are looking for products and services that facilitate lives. Smart mobility implies optimisation and improvement. If you can make mobility smart, why not do it? This is what attracts me the most. It is the means through which mobility becomes smart, the devices and applications and all the programmes that are developed that is so interesting.

Militaru Andreea-Valentina: For me smart mobility is a challenge with three main goals: to make traffic safer for everyone, to be more environmentally friendly and to sustain the evolution of a society that is becoming more technological. It’s fascinating that under one name – smart mobility- we can find significant sustainable solutions for problems such a traffic congestion, accidents and pollution. Just these two words can make a huge difference to our lives.

Iulia Nicorici: Technology evolves every day. In the future, mobility systems in our cities and towns might be like what we see in the movies of the future. Less traffic, safer conditions and less pollution. Everything is connected and in its place and has a specific function.

For the European Mobility Challenge, you had to come up with a solution that meets the needs of vulnerable road users and makes mobility more efficient, greener and sustainable in your city. According to the World Bank, gender differences in transport are related to four things: security and safety, design and accessibility of the infrastructure, travel patterns and cost of transport services. As women, what solutions would you design to make transport more gender equal?

Andrea-Iulia Patachi: I think the first step will be for local authorities to understand gender differences in transport and that when designing a transport project you should consider also specific users’ necessities, such as related to women. For ERTICO, we developed a survey to gather input from directly-impacted transport users in order to understand specific local problems related to gender or other differences. In my opinion, there is no general solution as different cultural influences bring different problems. The first step should be to understand the situation and the local problems and then to find the best solution.

Militaru Andreea-Valentina: The solution we presented for the European Mobility Challenge intended to provide vulnerable users, including women, with opportunities. We aim at being actively present in the traffic eco-system to adapt to critical situations when required. For example, to consider the transport options available to women and offer a choice so she can avoid transit in dangerous areas.

Iulia Onica: As a student, my main means of getting around was by buses and trams. From my personal experience, unfortunately I can say that women do receive public harassment on transport services. We need education programmes that raise awareness and teach people not to accept this kind of behaviour.  Transport companies need to be more flexible and diversify by considering travel patterns and service costs (for example providing special transport subscriptions for certain women such as working mothers). Statistics show that public transport is mostly used by women, and many women miss out on career opportunities because they cannot afford the cost of commuting. Ticketing systems must be diversified and optimised.

Iulia Nicorici: I played a big role in pushing forward the sustainable part of the transport solution that our team presented at the competition. My goal is to give every citizen the opportunity to access and share transport means such as a bicycles or e-scooter in an urban environment, particularly if a user has no private means themselves.

In 2015 only 22 % of workers in the transport sector were women. As students, can you confirm this trend, or do you see more women studying in faculties that could lead to a career in transport?

Militaru Andrea-Valentina: If we look at the number of women in our technical faculty, we cannot observe an established trend. In 2018 there were 27% women in the faculty on electronics, which I think is a fairly good result. I cannot say today the engineering faculty is more dominated by men. I think that women’s creativity is necessary to present technological solutions for today’s challenges. Look at us! We are four girls in a big competition, and today we have an interview about our experience! I think this is a huge motivation for other women to try to work in the sector.

Andreea-Iulia Patachi: I talked with other colleagues from Germany, who were really surprised to see such a high number of women studying in this domain. What would I say to women that think that working in this field is difficult? Well, there are many successful women out there who inspire us, so I think that if we really want to do something, we can.

Iulia Nicorici: In a mostly male-dominated field, it can be hard in the beginning to find your own space, but it is not impossible, especially if you like what you do. My advice is to prove that you can do things if you really want to.

Iulia Onica: Follow your dreams! There are so many successful women that are leading the way in the transport field.