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Women Still Not Fully at Home in Automotive Industry, Study Finds

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A new study carried out by Deloitte Canada and Automotive News reveals that there’s still much progress to be made before women feel fully at home in the automotive industry. The study was conceived as a way to get a firmer grip on where women feel there are still problems in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Most strikingly, close to half of the women surveyed as part of the study said they would choose a different industry if they had to do it all over again. In comparison, one-third of male respondents gave the same response. Specifically, women gave the following as their top reasons for wanting a do-over: lack of promotion opportunities and a lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Still a man’s world
As for women entering the workforce, that perceived lack of diversity, equity and inclusion was the number-one reason given for them not considering the automotive industry. And while a solid majority of male respondents (64 percent) said they felt the sector has made significant or at least positive progress in the evolution of attitudes towards female professionals in the past five years, women by and large begged to differ: only 39 percent agree with that supposition, and in fact 35 percent said they felt things have gotten worse.

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Alex Archer, engineer at Rivian
Alex Archer, engineer at Rivian

Furthermore, almost all women surveyed – 91 percent in fact - said that there is systemic bias towards men when it comes to filling leadership positions, in comparison with 47 percent of men. Related to that is the disconnect between genders as to why there are not more women in leadership positions in the industry: while 39 percent of men feel that comes about at least in part because of a lack of qualified candidates (the glass-half-full interpretation of that of course is that 61 percent of men don’t think that), women are mostly having none of that: only 13 percent agree with that premise.

In example after example, the numbers tell the story: there’s a disconnect between how many men and women perceive the progress being made in terms of improving the conditions faced by - and opportunities open to - women in the automotive sector.

Deloitte Canada says the data shows clearly that in the coming years, the industry will miss out on the possibility of attracting qualified, dynamic people if it does not address key concerns that women have regarding representation and advancement opportunities, and what is perceived as an industry-wide bias toward men for leadership positions.

Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO of General Motors
Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO of General Motors