The female population now accounts for nearly half of all drivers on the road, and data insights show that women play a part in the purchase of seven out of ten cars. However, is this increased role that women play in the driving and purchasing part of the automotive industry reflected at boardroom level?
In this post, we showcase some of the most influential women in the automotive industry.
Linda Jackson tops UK ‘power list’
In a recent ‘power list’, Citroen boss Linda Jackson was voted as the most powerful woman in the UK motor industry.
Linda is the Chief Executive Officer of Citroen, and has been charged with making the brand more fashionable and quirky. Her success in this role has led to her being labelled as the “deesse” or “goddess”, after the legendary Citroen DS of the 1950s and 60s whose letters were a French play on words for a deity.
Linda Jackson has worked in the motor industry for 39 years. She became the Global Chief Executive of Citroen in 2014, the first time a female or a Briton has ever held the post. She previously worked as Managing Director of Citroen UK and Ireland from 2010, and prior to that, she spent 27 years at MG Rover.
Several other women were also celebrated in the ‘power list’, including:
- Fiona Pargeter: Head of Global PR Communications, Jaguar Land Rover.
- Helen Emsley: Executive Director, Global GMC Design and User Experience, GMC.
- Monique Carter: Group Human Resources Director, GKN.
- Josephine Payne: Global Assembly and Test Manager, Powertrain Manufacturing Engineering, Ford Motor Company.
- Lisa Brankin: Marketing Director, Ford of Britain.
- Claire Williams: Deputy Team Principal, Williams F1.
- Danella Bagnall: F-Pace Chief Product Engineer, Jaguar Land Rover.
- Julia Woodhouse: Director, Global Powertrain and Driveline Purchasing, Ford Motor Company.
- Angela Shepherd: Network Operations Director, Mercedes-Benz UK.
Looking across the pond: Mary Barra and General Motors
Over in America, Mary Barra has secured herself a place in history. She’s the first female CEO of a major global automaker, General Motors.
In addition, she’s also appeared in Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World”, having managed the entire Detroit/Hamtramck assembly plant. According to Forbes, she’s also the world’s seventh most powerful woman and the second most powerful woman in business.
Barra began working for General Motors aged 18, holding primarily administrative positions. In February 2008, she secured the position of Vice President of Global Manufacturing Engineering, before becoming Vice President of Global Human Resources until 2011. In 2013, her Vice President responsibility was extended to incorporate the Global Purchasing and Supply Chain. Barra became CEO in 2014.
Women in F1 and Motorsport
Although some may consider Formula One to be a male dominated, testosterone fuelled sport, women have certainly left their mark.
In the history of F1, five female drivers have entered at least one Grand Prix. Lella Lombardi competed in the highest number of Grand Prix, starting in 12.
South African Desire Wilson is the only woman to win a Formula One race, claiming victory in the 1980 Brands Hatch event as part of the British Aurora F1 series. As a result, she has a grandstand at the circuit named in her honour.
In 2014, Susie Wolff became the first woman to participate in a Formula One weekend since 1992. Wolff came 15/22, only a few hundred seconds behind former World Championship Runner Up, Felipe Massa. She has, however, since retired from motorsport.
Over in America, Danica Patrick is arguably the most recognisable famous female in motorsport. As well as being a successful motor racing driver, she’s also a model and an advertising spokeswoman. She’s the most successful woman in the history of American open-wheel racing, competing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the NASCAR Nationwide Series. In 2013, she also became the first female NASCAR driver to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole.
Many women, both in the UK and abroad hold key positions in the automotive industry. While women can on occasion still face barriers to entering what’s arguably been a historically male dominated environment, these leading ladies provide inspiration for others to follow their ambitions fully.
Image courtesy of iStock