A Woman's Point of View

Many years ago when I was interviewing for a job in automotive parts sales, my potential employer asked me, “How do you think you’ll do in a man’s world?” My response was, “Oh…really?  Is this a “man’s world?”  Seven years in outside sales and multi-million dollar annual revenues later, by me-- a woman--must prove otherwise.

While automotive parts sales is different than tires, they are closely related and encompass a lot of the same strategies and objectives. Certainly, yes, there is an overwhelming number of men compared to women in the automotive fields all across the board.

During the recession, I saw a lot fewer women colleagues. Some reports state that the number of women leaving the automotive work force was as high as sixty percent.

This quote from a successful auto exec, Deborah Wahl Meyer, formerly of Lexus, really sums it up well:

“You just see less diversity now than ever before -- when the car-buying population is more diverse than ever. It's a good time for reflection. What happened? How come we're still not there?”

The car buying, automotive repair, and tire purchasing populations are as diverse as ever, with equally diverse ways to buy and research the product we’re looking for.  When we go to selling and marketing seminars, we have whole segments about how to market to women. There are more women making important purchasing decisions in households than ever before, so why are there fewer women working in the automotive related fields?

In my perspective as a woman who has been working in automotive for more than 20 years now, I believe educational disparities, sociological pressures (women in automotive are manly), and the auto industry's reputation as “a man’s world” have deterred more women from entering into the field for a long time. When the recession occurred, women left the field to pursue non-automotive careers and they haven’t come back. Some women have pursued auto-related careers despite these circumstances, and serve as valuable inspiration for future females. So too does the work of industry advocates like TIA and researchers, who are looking to shift the gender breakdown. Who could best know the automotive needs of a woman better than a woman?