“Ultimate expression”

Gains of women car designers in full view at this year’s New York Auto Show

A woman attends the 2016 New York International Auto Show. (REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz)

Behind the scenes of the annual new-car extravaganza known as the New York Auto Show are some of the most influential female car designers and engineers in the industry’s history. Women now make up 27 percent of entry-level roles and 18 percent of mid-level roles within the auto industry, and are making their way closer and closer to the top, according to Fortune. The largest car manufacturer in the U.S., General Motors, is now helmed by CEO Mary Barra, and elsewhere increasing numbers of women are influencing the sleek new designs and capabilities of today’s best cars.

Liz Wetzel, GM’s first female chief designer, told Fortune that she first took a tour of GM’s design center as a student, and knew she wanted to help design cars for her career. “A car is the ultimate expression of one’s personal style and taste,” she said. She said that at the beginning of her career, women were seen as a “novelty” in the industry, but she’s seen the presence of women grow and believes more women will join the industry with Mary Barra as a role model.

In the high-pressure world of luxury sports car, Jaguar’s Anna Gallagher said that women have to prove themselves “twice, first because you are a woman and secondly to show that you can do the job.” She’s done the job well, rising over the doubts of male colleagues – one told her that her voice was “too high” to be successful — to become senior launch manager for Jaguar Sports and Lifestyle cars. Both Wetzel and Gallagher will have cars on display at this year’s auto show, but they’re not the only ones.

Read the full story at Fortune.


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