Q-Free America Executive Vice President for Operations, Whitney Nottage P.E., recognized by Engineering Georgia Magazine as one of the Top 50 Women in the Know. In addition to advancing her own skills and career, as a leader in the traditionally male-dominated world of engineering, Whitney is committed to opening the discipline to more women, a commitment she shares with Q-Free’s leadership team.
When asked, colleagues reflected on Whitney’s time with the company as inspiring with more than a few wishing “she could be cloned” due to her remarkable work ethic, knowledge, passion, and impeccable organizational skills.
“It is an honor to be recognized and in the company of such intelligent, successful, and influential women.”
Q&A with Whitney
As a company looking to increase the number of women in its ranks by 40 percent, we sat with Whitney and posed five questions about what this means to her and how we can encourage more women to pursue transportation engineering moving forward.
1. What does it mean to you to be recognized as one of the Top 50 Women in the Know by Engineering Georgia?
Engineering Georgia is THE statewide magazine for all Engineering disciplines serving engineers, political leaders, business leaders, and more on all topics related to Engineering. It is an incredible honor to be recognized by such a well-established and respected publication, and be in the company of such intelligent, successful, and influential women.
2. Engineering has been such a male-dominated industry since it first became a discipline. How important is it to you to break that chain and the stereotype?
Only 13% of engineers are women, yet we represent half the population. That gap must be bridged if we want to attract the best and brightest people to our industry, and more importantly keep them here. I spent a lot of time in college and beyond volunteering for programs and activities that were catered towards keeping young ladies in the STEM field. Today, this hits even closer to home as I work to raise two young daughters. I would love to see them live in a world where they can do what they want with their lives without having detractors pulling them away from what they love.
3. In your view, what can we do to encourage more young women to pursue transportation engineering?
Statistics show that women have a balanced appreciation for technical and non-technical interests at a young age. Yet somehow, that changes as they grow up. I think supporting programs and activities that continue to expose young ladies to STEM as they grow is critical.
Additionally, I think women love to feel like the work they do is making a difference in the world. They want a career that matters. Most career education today is centered around what one will do for a living, not what their living will do for the world. Some careers that is more obvious than others, so including this information in educational programs can help.
Finally, I think getting more women in engineering means breaking down barriers beyond engineering. Talk about the gender gap in postsecondary (tertiary) education. Help make it more normal for women to have careers. Help make it more normal for men to contribute to the home. Make the subject more than just a challenge for women to solve, and one for everyone to solve.
4. You’ve been very active with ITS Georgia since arriving in the state in 2012. What do you get out of it and what do you want the organization to accomplish?
After relocating from another state where I knew everyone in the industry, it was hard to start over. The organization immediately welcomed me in and helped me meet and network with wonderful people in the ITS industry. ITS Georgia has continued to provide me with educational opportunities, professional opportunities, and more – plus it’s a blast!
My hope is to see ITS Georgia continue to support the State in improving the management of the transportation system through technology. By educating the member base, educating policy makers, growing the ITS constituency, and providing a platform to share ideas, ITS Georgia is helping to make our roads safer, improve mobility, promote sustainability, and more.
5. How has your experience been working for Intelight and Q-Free?
I can’t say enough about the experience I’ve had with Intelight and Q-Free and how much the company and team mean to me. My experience at Intelight taught me so much about my niche. I truly believe that because of Intelight, that I became a well-known and respected name in traffic. In addition, the company provided the opportunity to work on some of the most rewarding projects of my career with many of the smartest people this industry has ever seen — both inside and outside of the company.
The integration of Intelight to Q-Free has been far better than ever expected. It’s been a joy to see how well we all collaborate, share resources, and cross boundaries. We are a melting pot of all the important aspects of intelligent transportation solutions and together we’re creating sustainable, smart cities where people, goods, and data travel safely and efficiently. What more could I ask for?
Okay, one last question… what’s next for you?
I plan to continue to serve Georgia, Q-Free, my team, and all our customers with the same drive and passion that has carried me for the past 14 years. I want to watch my girls grow up knowing what hard work is and what it can accomplish – what they can accomplish. At the end of the day, I want to see a safer, cleaner, and more efficient world around me and know I was a part of that.