Our industry, much like those of construction, technology, national politics and sports (amongst others) are notorious for being dominated by the male species. Why is that? Is it the old aged theory that women simply “don’t grasp the complicated machines known as cars”? Or is it that we just aren't macho enough? Whatever the reasoning, it simply just doesn't make any sense.

Bottom line…sexism. It plays a major role in our industry and I personally feel it almost every day. I don’t feel it from my colleagues at iMagicLab, probably since I am “just one of the guys” to our crazy bunch, but I definitely feel it from others outside our organization. There isn't a day that goes by that I don’t get “thanks sweetie” or a wink at the end of an email, which I highly doubt my male counterparts get in their correspondence with others in the industry. It doesn't bother me in the least bit (actually makes me blush from time to time, which one can always use) but I do think it’s just the industry standard (odd as it may sound). As mentioned in one of my recent blogs, I recently came to our industry from Corporate America and I can’t think of one occasion that I was treated that way in my tenure there. Probably for the fear of sexual harassment, which can happen in any industry, but for fear nonetheless.

Studies have shown that women in our industry (though few and far between) have rarely held roles at the senior or executive level. Over the last several years I've read several articles stating we would begin to see a paradigm shift- and begin seeing women working in our body shops, making it as senior level executives at the top automakers (Grace Lieblein, VP at GM), to race-car drivers (Danica Patrick). We are breaking down those barriers one by one, and hopefully before we know we won’t just hear “the old car guy” as a reference to those in our industry.

I’d love to see the “no girls allowed” sign taken down, sexism go by the wayside, and for us to continue to build our workforce with the most knowledgeable professionals out there (no matter the gender).


Carey Spillert is a Sales Solutions Manager at iMagicLab. She has recently come back to the industry after years of being a corporate powerhouse. You can follow Carey @theCRMprincess on Twitter and find her on LinkedIn.

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Comment by Carey Spillert on August 27, 2013 at 10:49am

Katie, thanks for sharing.

I am not much of a feminist either quite honestly. I am glad to hear you've made my your own way in our industry and have been just as successful in those roles as anyone else- that's all I ultimately want for anyone...a fair shot to build whatever career path they choose as an individual.

Best of luck to you!

Comment by Katie Colihan on August 23, 2013 at 2:02pm

Carey-- This was well said. I'm naturally not much of a feminist, however can totally agree that the Automotive field is very male dominated. When people hear that I work in the automotive industry, they assume I'm a "secretary" or in "HR". Little do they know, I've run entire call centers, sold vehicles, and done everything a male can do, if not better in my own way.

Thanks for sharing this!

-Katie Colihan
CarChat24
Phone: (800) 510-7567
@CarChat24

Comment by Carey Spillert on August 22, 2013 at 4:09pm

Thank you Sally!

I have too recently seen that stat on females and having the highest percentage of buying power in the US. I was tempted to include that in my posting initially but didn't for whatever reason...

I think you are correct in saying women overall are more comfortable in those other positions for fear of negotiating- I don't think that comes as second nature for us women. 

Every GM (and every man...as the old adage states: "Beside Every Strong Man Is An Even Stronger Woman" ) does have a good woman behind him. Why is that?

I value your input and glad we have met on this forum, look forward to seeing what the future holds.

Comment by Carey Spillert on August 22, 2013 at 3:56pm

Thank you Megan for your response and welcome to the industry.

I agree with you as well in that all those blogging that have positioned themselves as supporters of women in this industry have the most blatant sexism in their communication. Sad but true.

I am not sure what's next quite honestly but do know the more we voice our thoughts, the more impact it may have on the larger community. 

Chat soon!

Comment by Sally Whitesell on August 22, 2013 at 1:59pm

 

Thank you for sharing!  Research shows that women are a part of over 80% of all buying decisions made in America.  Our industry really needs to focus on how to make women feel more comfortable in dealerships as consumers so they will begin to see there are great career opportunities available.  One of the main reasons women do not want to sell cars is that they feel they would have to be dishonest or face confrontations while negotiating.  They are much more comfortable in office positions which will not really get them up to the top leadership positions.  What I find interesting is that every GM has a very capable women, (I have never seen a man in this position.) running his day and screening his calls.  We have so many old misconceptions to overcome but unfortunately some of them are still justified sweetie, wink, wink.

Comment by Megan Gardner on August 20, 2013 at 10:17am

Carey, 

 

It’s nice to meet you; thank you for taking the time to write about this important topic. I'm new to automotive, having moved from the sports industry two years ago. What I have found to be most surprising is how much more difficult it is for women in automotive than in sports; most people would assume that these male-dominated industries would be equal in this area. What’s even more concerning is even in this progressive group of bloggers and commenters – all of whom have positioned themselves as supporters of women in business – have so much inherent sexism in their communication. The problem is so pervasive that even the people who can help to lead us out of it excuse parts of it.

 

This is not an admonishment of these comments or your blog - on the contrary, I’m excited to see this commentary - it’s a red flag of how far we have to go. Carey, it shouldn’t be the case that your emails end with “sweetie” or advances that sexualize you in any way. Ever. It’s that simple. If you are in a professional environment, you deserve the same amount of respect and professionalism as anyone else in that office. And, though fear may have played into the experience in corporate America, stricter professional standards, continued education, balanced hiring practices, women in executive positions and a higher socially accepted norm play into it to a higher degree.

 

I’ve spent years working to level the playing field for women in business through sports and professional associations and I would be thrilled to do similar work in the automotive industry. Together, we can begin to pave the way for young women professionals starting out and support other women to advance into leadership and executive positions. I’m proud to work for one of the only certified women-owned business in the automotive industry and I can’t wait for the day when we have more esteemed company.

 

So I ask, what’s next?

 

Megan Gardner

VP, Accounts

3 Birds Marketing 

@gardner_meg

Comment by Carey Spillert on August 19, 2013 at 4:01pm

Ron, thanks for the reply.

You are 100% correct and my apologies, I didn't do any deep research to give solid stats but enough to know that it's a snails pace increase. That's not to say any increase isn't better than no increase. I wrote this really for other's feedback as to why the industry is still so male dominated after all these years.

Thanks again for reaching out.

Comment by Carey Spillert on August 19, 2013 at 3:44pm

Thank you Kevin! 

I love hearing that you see the number of women in your groups is on the rise. I too have heard some of the best GM's out there are females- for reasons similar to those you mentioned. 

I must tell you that this posting (here as well as other sites) has brought more positive responses from men than I anticipated. That in itself gives me great hope that things will continue to change.

I look forward to chatting again in the future.

Comment by Carey Spillert on August 19, 2013 at 3:37pm

Thank you Anne for writing, it's greatly appreciated.

Those numbers, although on the rise, are sad to see in 6 years- only a 10% increase. I agree with you, most of the positions held by women are mostly "back end" and I've often wondered why that it is as well.

It may not be all about sexism per se and agree that women do probably tend to stay away for several different reasons. I just wish we could bridge the gap more and realize both genders are more than capable to succeed in this industry, in any role. I am certainly not a die hard feminist by any means, but want females to feel just as empowered if this industry is where they want to be. Hoping to see more changes to come...

Hope you have a great week!

Comment by Carey Spillert on August 19, 2013 at 3:29pm

LOL Paula, I was wondering how old you really were :-)

From what it sounds like we would be good friends..."guy in a skirt"! I couldn't agree with you more on many levels. Hopefully we will continue to see the gap being filled, I know I am excited to see what the future holds for the entire industry. 

Thanks for the reply and look forward to hearing from you again soon.

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