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I am finding that this industry, probably like most, is very fickle.

 

When I first started I had a lot to overcome being a woman in a male dominated industry. I'd show up to a store work on a computer and be asked where's the tech, only to be met with a look of disapproval when I let them know I was there to fix their Rey Rey issue. Have been in a Dealer Principal's on a sales call to be looked over and asked contract questions to the field tech I had with me. I had to learn very early on how to read someone within the first few minutes of meeting if they were judging me based on the fact that I have breasts. Don't get me wrong, there were plenty of times I used that knowledge to my advantage and no not always in the obvious ways. There are many advantages to knowing that the person you are meeting with is honestly looking at your work on its own merit rather than who did it.

 

But now there seems to be such a reversal. The automotive industry is trying hard to change their reputation as a “Boy’s Club” and be more female friendly. Things like AskPatty.com where women can go and get advice for their cars & find “Female Friendly” dealerships, because yes we have all heard the horror stories of a woman going to the service or sales department alone & being taken advantage of, are welcomed. There are more women Service Managers, GSMs, even GMs. You also hear of more women holding more powerful positions on the corporate level. GM for example has two women Corporate Officers and Ford, a well respected domestic company, has three. This may not sound like a lot but in the history of this industry it is fairly new and a major shift.

 

Now with the increased presence of OEMs, dealer and vendors through social media, it seems everyone is trying to have more of a “female presence” to their company. In the past few months I have been approached by companies to come guest blog for, to speak to because “we might have something for you” only to be followed up with “what is it you do?” Very few people know that I spent 5 years doing field, customer service & sales for an automotive centered IT company.  Some seem to know that I spent 2 years as a designer for Smart Web Concepts creating and building custom dealer websites. And only a handful seems to know that I now work for Larry Bruce, MicrositesByU, working on conversion design, SEO, client relations and such. All that seems to be common knowledge is that I am a woman, not even a high profile one at that if you ask me, and that am involved in the auto industry, yet they "may have something for me." But is really enough to judge someone on? When does someone’s experience and skill set come into play when measuring their value?

 

I am glad to see the changes happening in the industry. I am happy to see less and less “Booth Bunnies” at conferences. I am relieved to hear that the horror stories of negative encounters women experience at the dealerships are lessening. But it appears that in our correction we may have swung the pendulum just a bit too far to the other side. Maybe now it is time to find that balance within our industry.

 

Views: 78

Tags: AskPatty, Female Friendly, Gender Roles, Social Media, Stereotypes

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Comment by James Stayton on August 19, 2011 at 11:09am

This has been an ongoing argument for as long as I can remember. Tom makes a good point that youth is a factor and how "attractive" the woman / man is taken into effect. But I would ask if that doesn't at times work in reverse. Is a blonde woman necessarily less intelligent becuase she is a blonde? It's that type of male chauvinist attitude that I believe in a large way holds back the advancement of business as a whole. But is this not taught as a society? It's what I call (and I am going to get real grief over this I know) the Daphne & Velma factor. One was cute and bubbly and the other was a bit more frumpy and smart. Yes these are stereotypes but they are the message that was and is still sent out in way form or another through our media. 

 

I know several great business people that happen to be women, but they are judged on the same bar as men. Bob Dylan said it best when he said "These times they are a changin" but I believe (for now anyway) how high the bar is set is up to the individual that is jumping it. 

Comment by Tom Gorham on August 18, 2011 at 8:53pm

Shame on you Jason.  I really don't want to see Larry as a "Booth Bunny".  :-)  But I don't believe business will ever be gender-neutral.  Every study I have ever read shows the power of "good looks" whether it's about men or women.  The real war is more likely to be between youth and vitality vs age and experience.  And there's something to be said for both.  Thanks for a very controversial subject.

 Dara.

Comment by Dara Moore on August 18, 2011 at 4:34pm

Lol Jason I don't think that would be a pretty sight. :)

Comment by Jason Manning on August 18, 2011 at 12:27pm
It is Intelligence and Imagination that will drive business success in our future.  Dealers and Vendors will become Gender-Neutral for their success.  However, I would like to see Larry Bruce as a "Booth Bunny" just to see if it would work...just one time.  

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