The Einride women lighting sparks among the next generation
The Einride women lighting sparks among the next generation
Einride’s digital, electric and autonomous technology is inspiring girls and women of all ages when it comes to careers in tech and freight. But it’s not the technology alone that’s sparking this awe and wonder – it’s also the women of Einride themselves.
As a product manager based in Gothenburg, Sweden, Isabella Johansson helps to bring Einride’s autonomous drive technology to the world. But she wouldn’t have discovered her passion for working with technology if it wasn’t for an event she attended during her final year at high school.
“I come from a background where none of my relatives are engineers. My mother worked as a kindergarten teacher, and my father, as a mechanic,” says Isabella. “I took the Natural Sciences program at school and had thought about studying to become a pilot. I had no idea what an engineer even was. But then I attended this event held at Linköping University that was all about showing young people what studying engineering could lead to. It was really inspiring – and was honestly the reason I chose that path for university.”
With gratitude for those who introduced her to engineering and tech, Isabella has made a conscious effort to pay it forward. Today, she is one of Einride’s most proactive advocates when it comes to inspiring youth and encouraging more talented women to consider joining the Einride team.
“I want to make sure that women do not miss out on this interesting career path. That’s why I think it’s important to engage with them early – not only by showing them what the jobs out there are like, but also showing that there are indeed women out there working these jobs,” she says.
Isabella Johansson seated at the Remote Interface
Camp Vera, at Chalmers University, is one of the events Isabella speaks at on behalf of Einride. Named after Vera Sandberg, Sweden’s first female engineer, the event is held for girls and non-binary students in their final year of high school. They can participate in workshops and hear inspirational lectures from women in the industry.
“It’s wonderful to be able to tell these students what Einride’s technology is achieving, both in terms of enabling companies to drastically reduce their emissions, and in paving the way forward with autonomous heavy vehicles,” she says. "I want the students to understand that they can impact the world in a positive way by choosing this career path."
Isabella also spoke at the major UK motorsports event the Goodwood Festival of Speed, as part of the panel discussion “Girls4Tech”. The chat was streamed online and can be viewed in full, below.
Isabella Johansson speaks at the Goodwood “Girls4Tech” panel discussion
Introducing girls to Intelligent Movement
Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day (“IGEday”) is another initiative that Isabella has driven Einride’s involvement in. Coordinated by the Womengineer foundation, IGEday is held at locations across Sweden – as well as digitally – every year, with various companies taking part. Einride participates in collaboration with the AstaZero Test Track in Sandhult, Sweden.
Bianca Otake, an autonomous drive engineer based in Stockholm, is one of the Einride talents who joined Isabella for the occasion. “We had a group of 9th-grade girls visit the test track where they could see the autonomous vehicles in motion,” she says. “They could sit at the Remote Interface – to see how the vehicles can be monitored remotely – and also got up close to inspect the sensors and all the hardware. And, of course, they were able to hear our views on working as engineers.”
Bianca says many of the girls were surprised this type of technology would be something an engineering degree could lead them to. “Some had an image of a software engineer as being someone who only ever sits behind a desk looking at a screen. But we were able to show these students that technology can be so many different things.”
The need for representation
Bianca reveals some common first reactions when girls get a glimpse at Einride’s technology: “I think the first reaction is ‘Oh, wow, they’re doing so many interesting things – but it looks hard.’ I would say this is understandable. And then I believe the second common reaction among girls is: ‘This isn’t my field.’ Or: ‘This doesn’t suit me.’ And it’s this reaction that makes me feel a bit sad,” Bianca admits.
“The hesitation has a lot to do with the images and norms that you’ve been presented throughout your life. And that’s where I think representation comes into play. We need to be there at all stages – including around the university-entry age but also even earlier – just to say: ‘Hey, this is really fun. You can be part of this. You can also find your place.”
While all engineering fields are heavily male-dominated, Bianca says vehicle and logistics tech face an even greater challenge when it comes to recruiting women: “I think a lot of women might be interested in Einride but then hesitate to apply because they associate this type of technology with being more male-oriented, compared to say biotech or chemistry.”
“I hope this changes, and perhaps that’s something that we – as women at Einride – can influence by going out into the world and explaining our love for what we do,” says Bianca. “The passion I feel for my work comes from having interesting and complex problems to solve. That’s something that can appeal to anyone, regardless of gender.”
Another solver of problems is Hadla Bergman. Read more about the front-end software engineer, charity founder, and techno DJ in Einride Portraits.
Empowering one another
While Bianca is inspiring girls and young women, she herself also draws inspiration from her colleagues. “At Einride, there are many amazingly talented women, working at all levels. Through them, I can see that there are paths forward that I can take, gender aside,” she says. “I also really appreciate that we are a company with a female founder, Linnéa Kornehed Falck, who is also Deputy CEO and Chief Marketing Officer. And we have Ellen Kugelberg as Chief Product Officer. Both these women I find incredibly inspiring, in terms of how they’ve forged these paths and are making such an impact.”
Linnéa Kornehed Falck – Founder, Deputy CEO and CMO
Ellen Kugelberg – Chief Product Officer
Praise for Einride’s women is echoed across regions and roles. Shabnam Di Pilato, a Logistics Coordinator based near Chicago, says: “Working with Einride, I have connected with some of the strongest and most supportive women I have ever met. We lift each other up and encourage each other, and there is not a second that passes that I don't know they are standing behind me.”
Shabnam Di Pilato – Logistics Coordinator
New kinds of truckers
Tiffany Heathcott is another US-based Einride employee. The former truck driver became Einride’s first-ever remote operator of autonomous vehicles. Instead of driving on the road and sleeping in the cab, she now remotely supervises autonomous electric vehicles from the comfort of her workstation, the Remote Interface.
“The biggest hurdle I think that many women face is they are considered the caregiver to the family, whether it be children or elderly parents. This limits the types of jobs they can commit to, which can lead to receiving less pay,” she says. “This new world of remote monitoring of autonomous vehicles gives such women the opportunity to enter the trucking industry in a way that balances with their other family needs, as they will be home on a daily basis.”
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Tiffany Heathcott completes her training as a remote operator.
Tiffany says Einride is also improving working conditions for drivers who have switched from driving diesel trucks to driving electric trucks for Einride: “The driving shifts are less strenuous under the Einride ecosystem. So drivers don’t need to sleep in their trucks – they’re able to spend more time at home. Electric trucks are also quieter and more pleasant to drive overall, compared to diesel.”
Emina, an electric truck driver for Einride’s carrier partner Erikssons Åkeri. Hear her perspective on driving for Einride.
The push to eliminate “tech-career hesitation”
In just a few weeks, a group of girls will have the opportunity to sit in the Remote Interface and experience a taste of Tiffany’s work as a remote operator – as it is time for the next IGEday. Isabella, Bianca, and a few other Einride women are heading back to the AstaZero Test Track to present Einride’s technology to a new cohort of students.
“In a way, I think that by meeting us they might be inspired, but they can also see that we’re not superhuman geniuses. They see we are normal people. And that sends a message that they can follow in this path. That there are companies that would welcome them, and that there’s so much fun and amazing stuff to work on,” says Isabella.
“When I decided to pursue a career in robotics, deep down I believed it would be fun and interesting and challenging. But still, I had to take a leap of faith. I had to overcome this real hesitation that ‘this wasn’t for me’,” says Bianca. “It takes courage when you’re doing something different to what the vast majority of your friends are doing.”
“But my hope is that one day, there won’t be any hesitation. Because there shouldn’t be. Women all around the world should find their place in tech roles, and I hope that if or when they do, they share their stories with pride,” she says. “Together, maybe we can ‘inspire away’ the hesitation.”
Just some of the many talented women working at Einride.