Tech equity and advocacy through digital literacy and autonomy.
95. Courtney Ehrlichman- RoadBotics Co-Founder, Principal
Reading Time: 3minutes
“When I find out that I’m not getting paid as much as men doing the same work I do, I leave – I know my value. When I see opportunities to pull women up behind me – I do.”
Tell us a little bit about what a typical day looks like for you.
I like to wake up early, go to my gym (which is a diamond in the rough), then come home and sit around my dining room table drinking coffee, getting work done, til I have my first meeting. Then I’ll usually go into the office. After work, I try to get on the river, garden with my daughter, or hang with friends. Work to live, right?
How do you stay passionate in your career?
I really feel like I am in a unique position. I have access to top people in the industry while having street level intelligence. I really enjoy being able to build bridges that communicate needs and agendas across these groups.
Did you have a traditional path into tech (i.e.: CS/IT degree transitioned into tech job)?
The word “traditional” itself makes me shudder. My background is all over the place – from iron working shop, to waffle-serving live streaming talk show, to affordable housing development, to artist incubation researcher, to transportation technology expert.
Are there any apps, software, or tools you cannot live without?
Asana, keeps me and my team in line.
It’s common knowledge that women often face obstacles in the tech industry based on their gender. Have you ever had to deal with this type of experience and if so how did you handle it?
Every dang day. It’s an every day struggle. When I find out that I’m not getting paid as much as men doing the same work I do, I leave – I know my value. When I see opportunities to pull women up behind me – I do. I created a Women in Transportation Fellowship at Carnegie Mellon University that gives a woman tuition-free graduate education and political access.
What’s your favorite thing about being a woman in tech?
The other women in tech.
If applicable, how have you given back to the WIT community?
Yes, yes, yes, please see above. I also helped to found the Women Transportation Seminar Pittsburgh Chapter. I mentor, I coach, I cheer.
What is a piece of advice you would give to others wanting to or currently pursuing a career in tech?
People only tear people down because they are rising. Tune out the noise and keep your eye on the ball. Haters gonna hate, but winners gonna win. Reach out to other women in tech. Call me. We support each other.
Tell us about a time you felt extremely accomplished in the past year.
This past year was an extremely transitional year for me. I am determined to live my values and orchestrated major personal and professional changes. The uncertainty has been uncomfortable however, I needed to feel connected to myself.
I was approached by the TEDxPGH team to speak in their [small worlds] event this past June. I was honored and also terrified… did I really have something important to say? It was such a personal process: to clear the cobwebs and rediscover my voice, to meditate on my message, to narrow down all the information in my head. Working with the TEDxPittsburgh team was an incredible experience, so incredibly supportive and thoughtful. I feel awesome about my talk, my idea, my message. And I will tell you, I only got to that point two days before I went on stage! [see her talk below!]
“Start now. Start where you are. Start with fear. Start with pain. Start with doubt. Start with hands shaking. Start with voice trembling but start. Start and don’t stop. Start where you are, with what you have. Just … start.”