I had an incredible experience at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) thanks to She Buys Cars. I hope you had the chance to check out my post about Genesis, a luxury car brand that is bringing respect back in a big way and my auto show tips post that is sure to make your experience at NAIAS the best that it can be.
I’ve been to the auto show several times but this was the first year that I got to view it from a press perspective. It was such a different experience from the public show. I got to attend a press conference about the new Disney Cars movie that is coming out this summer. I even got to view a never before seen clip from the movie! I would divulge if I could but we were sworn to secrecy.
I saw reveals of new cars and I was even invited to after parties for various brands like Toyota and Mercedes. I felt pretty special, I have to admit.
As a newbie to the press days at NAIAS, I was surprised at how underrepresented women were. Seeing another woman outside of our group was rare. I even started to refer to all of the men as the wall of suits. Everywhere we went at the auto show and the after parties, we encountered so many men in suits. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of men. I am a fan of men in suits. I just didn’t realize that women were few and far between at NAIAS.
This realization got me thinking about women and the automotive industry in general. According to the Chicago Tribune women influence over 80% of automotive purchases and drive more than 50% of vehicles sold every year. Women also hold more driver’s licenses than men. Despite all of that, women only hold 25% of the jobs in the automotive industry and less than 20% off the engineering jobs in the industry as of 2014 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Mind boggling, right?!
On the positive side, the amount of women in the automotive industry has certainly gone up in the last 10 years even though the numbers are not where we would all like to see them yet. I had the opportunity to hear from one woman who has been shaking up the automotive industry for decades, Dr. Jody Hall the Vice President for the Automotive Market with Steel Market Development Institute. She mentioned that being female in a primarily male industry was an advantage and a disadvantage because everyone knew who she was. She stood out. She also mentioned that she didn’t want to be a female engineer or a male engineer. She just wanted to be an engineer and be treated like everyone else. Now she sees herself as a role model to mentor younger women engineers as well as men.
With my new insight about the lack of women in the automotive industry and at NAIAS I can’t help but feel how profoundly important it was that She Buys Cars put together the blogger event that was mainly women. We had a few guys in the group but most of the group was women of all ages and backgrounds. We made some heads turn while at NAIAS because like Dr. Hall, we stood out. Hopefully in the near future, women will not be seen as such an anomaly at both NAIAS and in the auto industry.
If you haven’t already done so, I urge you to check out She Buys Cars especially if you are a woman. Their mission is “to empower women as owners and buyers of cars, to help women to become more thoughtful about their cars and their purchase choices, and to foster a closer relationship between auto manufacturers and their female customers.” Go check ’em out.