Time for females to make their mark in motor industry

digital apprentice Lilly Hulse, manufacturing systems manager Mariam Zahedi and head of diversity Anne-Kathrin Altendorf 

Three of Bentley’s female colleagues were recognised in the 2020 Inspiring Automotive Women Awards - digital apprentice Lilly Hulse, manufacturing systems manager Mariam Zahedi and head of diversity Anne-Kathrin Altendorf - Credit: Bentley Motors

As I write this on International Women’s Day 2021 I am aware of the success of women in our industry and the increasing demand to introduce more.

Women now own around 35 per cent of the cars on the road and therefore it is not only logical but necessary for them to play their part in an industry which traditionally has been dominated by men.

Dr Astrid Fontaine, a board member of Bentley, the Volkswagen-owned luxury car maker, is an example of this involvement and success.

When she went to university she was one of three girls out of 120 students studying mechanical engineering and the motor industry was driven by this.

In truth, few girls studied engineering and so only a few were likely to join the industry.

Now in spite of the challenge of the pandemic which has caused a large number of lay-offs, Bentley took on 93 trainees of whom 31 were female.

The new way forward of electrification and digitalisation is proving an inspiration for females as Dr Fontaine says: “I think what we’re seeing here is a change in generations. I think it’s rather an opportunity now to look forward.

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"The opportunity to work remotely, collaborating on digital platforms-it removes any kind of barriers created when, for example, you have to look after children or your family.”

There is now the need for new and different skills which has attracted a greater diversity of people entering the industry and particularly female candidates.

Dr Fontaine is one of a growing number of female senior executives.

Lisa Brankin

Lisa Brankin, managing director of Ford UK. - Credit: Ford of Britain

Lisa Brankin is managing director of Ford UK and her associate Mandy Dean is director of commercial vehicles. Alison Jones is Group PSA managing director and has appointed Julie David as managing sirector of Peugeot UK. Julie had worked for Ford, Audi and Volkswagen and most recently was marketing director of Jaguar Land Rover.

On the world stage, Elena Ford is the chief customer experience officer at Ford Motor Company, and the first female Ford family member to hold an executive position at the company.

In the retail world we too are seeing a growth in female entrants but we need even more. There are already top female sales advisors, receptionists, HR managers, marketing, accounting and customer relation members, and some have become successful managers in sales, service and IT.

Now with the growth of electric vehicles we are hoping for more female applicants to become service technicians with IT skills and the ability to diagnose faults and put them right.

Social media is playing an increasing role within the marketing teams and this is another opportunity as communications change across the generations. 

So if you are a young female considering your future career or the parent of one, please do not hesitate to contact the retail motor businesses to find out more. I can assure you we are always looking for a greater diversity of people at Vospers.

Keep safe and I look forward to next week.