I've Never Had A Meeting With A Female Auto Executive
General Motors announced today that Mary Barra will replace Dan Akerson as CEO, making her the first woman to lead not just the company, but any automaker.
Even before her promotion from head of product development, Barra was the highest-ranking woman in the industry, according to Forbes.
Sadly, learning that didn't surprise me.
In a year and a half of covering the auto beat full-time, I've never had a meeting with a high-ranking woman.
As evidence, that fact is anecdotal but telling. No media contact at any car company, to the best of my recollection, has ever asked me to sit down with a female executive. I've never asked to meet with one, either.
That's because the auto industry is dominated, to a remarkable extent, by men. In GM's press release announcing the leadership change, Barra's photo is next to those of six men.
When Ford announced some changes of its own in November, no women were pictured in that release. Nissan's media website includes 50 executive biographies, only three of which are for women. Volkswagen is run by a male CEO and an eight-man board of management. There's one woman on BMW's nine-person Board of Management.
So if you want to talk to someone with high-level knowledge of the industry, you almost always want to speak with a man.
The GM bailout by the federal government is officially over, and the automaker has been cranking out excellent cars in the past few years. With Barra at the helm, GM is poised to continue that success.
Hopefully, I can get a meeting to discuss it with her.
- Before Being Named CEO, Mary Barra Did Awesome Stuff With GM's Product Line
- The US Lost $10.5 Billion On The GM Bailout
- We'll Have A Flying Car In 3 Years, But It Won't Be Out Of 'The Jetsons'