Women are playing a greater role in the automotive industry. While they have always been in this industry, it has historically been a male-dominated field. However, many companies are shifting their gears in favor of women and equality among the sexes in industry leadership.
In fact, the BMW Z4, Volvo YYC, Renault Scenic, Ford Probe and Nissan 350Z were all designed by either a female-led team, a female team or by a woman. To celebrate these women and all women in the industry, here are five women who are making great strides.
Mary Barra, CEO at General Motors
Barra is known as one of the most prominent female leaders in the automotive industry. She began her career at General Motors in 1980 and in her thirty-nine years of working there rose to the position of CEO. This allowed her to become the first ever CEO of a major automaker company. Her leadership allowed General Motors to rank as number one on the 2018 Global Report on Gender Equality.
Pamela Fletcher, VP of Global Electric Vehicle Programs at General Motors
From a young age, Fletcher knew that her passion was in the automotive industry, which helped fuel her fifteen-year career at General Motors. Before she was promoted in 2017 to her current role, she was the Executive Chief Designer of Global Electrified Vehicles. She is now focused on self-driving cars and is leading GM’s charge to launch twenty electric vehicles by 2023.
Barbara Jean (Barb) Samardzich, COO at Ford Europe (Retired)
From November 2013 to October 2016, Samardzich was the Chief Operating Officer and VP at Ford Europe, after which she retired after twenty-six years with Ford. During her time at Ford she held numerous leadership positions in powertrain operations, powertrain engineering and product development.
Jessica Winter Stafford, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Autotrader
Stafford began her career at Autotrader in 2007 as associate manager of digital marketing before she was named senior vice president and general manager in 2017. In her current role, she manages over 800 team members.
Ellenae Fairhurst, Lexus Dealership Owner in Huntsville, Alabama
Fairhurst began her career in the industry as a secretary for Ford Motor Company in 1968. After over 20 years in the industry, in 1992 she purchased a Dodge dealership. In fact, her dealership sales were so high she was able to pay for the dealership in a record eight years, where the average is normally fifteen. On top of all this, she was the first black dealership owner, helping make strides for women of color in the field.
As the industry continues to shift to an equal playing field, we look forward to seeing more women make their mark in the automotive industry.