What’s it like to be a female leader in the male-dominated auto industry? What is it like to be a woman leader in any male-dominated industry? It is tough. It is challenging. But most importantly, it is rewarding. Especially when you know that your presence as a woman in this particular industry has made a great impact and inspired other women to follow the same example.
The number of women in general and female executives in the automotive industry has gone up during the last decades. However, that number is still too low considering the fact that women make up almost half of the US labor force. Why is it so?
In this post, we will take a look at some of the reasons why women are not fairly represented in this industry. We will also explore a few solutions that may help women be more present in this industry and get more important roles within companies.
Let’s start with some of the reasons why women avoid the auto industry:
Not every girl’s dream
Being a female leader in the industry dominated by men is not something any girl dreams about growing up. The number of girls fascinated by cars since young is not very high. And some women end up in the auto-industry by mere chance.
Some grow up with a father who is a mechanic or a dad who is a key player in the auto industry. Hence, their interest in the automotive world is fostered from a young age. And this is what makes it “easier” for these girls to choose the auto industry.
But most women do not come from the same background and they are not attracted to this industry as much as men are.
Less interest in the industry
Another reason why women avoid the car industry is simply a lack of interest. This type of environment is not appealing to them. There’s also not enough encouragement for women to pursue a career in the automotive industry. And they know that if they choose this path, they will face a lack of advancement opportunities compared to their male counterparts.
The need for work-life balance
Some women avoid a career in the automotive world because of their need for work-life balance and flexible schedule. The auto industry is demanding. It can take a great chunk of your day, leaving little to no room for life outside of work.
Being a female trucker, for example, and spending most of your day on the road, away from your family and friends, is not something every woman can do. Women know the importance of maintaining work-life balance and they try to position themselves in industries that allow it.
The need for safety
Women also want to work in a place where they feel safe. Not that the car industry is not a safe place to work for women. But conscious and unconscious bias that women face hinders their advancement and often pushes them out of the industry for good.
According to a survey by Automotive News which asked around 900 women at all levels and in all segments sexism is “well and alive” in the auto industry. Even though this industry is trying to include women as much as possible, at the same time it is also pushing them away due to high rates of sexual harassment and sexism.
Women in the C-Suite
Let’s find out how the C-Suite picture is looking for women in the auto world. Globally, when it comes to gender diversity among executive teams, the automotive industry is not showing great progress.
The total percentage of female executives in the top 20 motor vehicle companies went from 7% (in 2014) to 8% (in 2018). The vast majority of the top 20 companies (56%) don’t have any female directors. Any. And this tells us a lot about the current situation and how slow it is moving toward inclusivity and gender equality.
Empowering women in the auto industry
There are several steps we can take to improve the current situation and increase the number of women in the auto industry as well as the number of female executives.
The power of encouragement
If more women already in the auto industry start helping, coaching, and supporting each other, more women will feel like they belong in this field. They will be more inclined to continue advancing their careers as well.
If you are a man or woman working in the auto industry, encourage your female coworkers, inspire them, help them get their voices and opinions heard. In the long run, this will not only result in more women choosing this profession but will also advance the careers of women already working in the industry. The more females hired in this industry, the higher their chances of reaching executive roles.
Hiring more women
We have seen time and time again how many professions are only targeted towards men, and only men are expected to apply. But we are moving towards the world that is more inclusive and open. Professions nowadays are not as sexist. Women excel at jobs that are “supposed to be done by a man” and vice versa.
When companies use gender-neutral wording in job listings, they leave the door open for women, thus promoting the culture of inclusion and equality.
Not only will this lead to women being more aware of these jobs. It will increase the number of qualified female talent within the auto industry. It is a win-win scenario.
Even though the percentage of women in the automotive industry is still relatively low, those who are part of it – are totally rocking it. From fixing and designing cars to planning and managing vehicle production – they are passionate about what they do.
Their profession may be hard and challenging, but that is what propels these women forward. Leading, creating, and designing new things. Adding their feminine and creative touch. And at the same time, inspiring other women who have decided to follow the same path.
Women are reshaping the automotive industry. Female leaders specifically have shown the world that, after all, in this conventionally male-dominated field, gender is losing its importance.
What matters is the impact your work leaves. The projects you manage to complete successfully. And the sheer joy you feel when you know you have surpassed everyone’s expectations. First of all – your own.