Women in Automotive Leadership: Celebrating Women’s History Month | Tier10lab
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Women in Automotive Leadership: Celebrating Women’s History Month | Tier10lab

Women in Automotive Leadership: Celebrating Women’s History Month
Madeleine Coe

It’s true that automotive still tends to be a male-dominated industry, and there are many women who have also been a key factor to its continued success. According to recent studies, women hold only about 25 percent of automotive jobs, despite the fact that female consumers make up over 44 percent of primary vehicle buyers, and have influence over about 80 percent of car-buying decisions. Additionally, women own only about 3 percent of all dealerships, and women make up a very small percentage of service technicians and body repair workers in the industry.

Every advancement made by a woman enhances the automotive industry not just for women, but for all. As we come to the final days of Women’s History Month, we wanted to give a shout out to all the ladies who are movers and shakers in the automotive industry. This list is in no particular order, but was put together to showcase the variety of contributions that women have made. Here are a few of the women who have contributed to the success of the industry.

Mary Barra


Source: John F. Martin for General Motors

Barra was named CEO of General Motors (GM) in January 2014. She is the first female CEO of a major global automotive manufacturer. She has been named on Forbes and Fortune’s respective Most Powerful Women lists.




Grace Lieblein


Source: LinkedIn

Lieblein is GM’s VP, Global Quality, reports to Mary Barra directly. Lieblein has worked for GM since 1978, starting as a co-op student at General Motors Assembly Division in Los Angeles, and has also served as the President and Managing Director of both GM Mexico and GM Brazil.



Michelle Christensen


Source: Tier10

Christensen led the team that designed the all-new 2016 Acura NSX. As the exterior design project leader, she is the first woman to lead a design team working on a supercar, and it sure is a beauty!




Danica Patrick


Source: Twitter

Patrick is probably the most well-known face and name on this list. She has established herself as a competitor in American open-wheel racing in the IndyCar and NASCAR series. Patrick is not just a sports success, but has also been successful in building herself into a brand.



Elena Ford


Source: Ford Media Center

Ford is VP, Global Dealer and Consumer Experience for Ford Motor Co. She is also the great-great-granddaughter and heiress of Henry Ford. She has been a member of the family business since 1995 and has been listed twice among the leading women in the auto industry by Automotive News.


Trudy Hardy


Source: BMW

Hardy has been the VP, Marketing for BMW of North America since 2013. She has received many awards for her branding and advertising work over the past several decades in the automotive industry, including AdWeek’s 2014 Brand Genius award.



Lorraine Schultz


Source: Google

In 1995, Schultz founded Women’s Automotive Association International (WAAI), an organization devoted to “recognizing the achievements of women in the automotive industry; providing education and news of particular interest to women in the industry; building relationships through networking opportunities and other forums; [and] encouraging growth through mentoring, educational endeavors and scholarships.” Schultz remains CEO to this day. At the upcoming 2015 New York International Auto Show, WAAI will be hosting a breakfast for women in automotive leadership on April 2.

Sharon Corrigan


Source: LinkedIn

Corrigan is the Director of Customer Relationships and Insights at Jaguar Land Rover, but she has also worked for Ford and Lincoln Mercury in her three-decade-long career in automotive. In September 2010, she was named one of the 100 Leading Women in Automotive.



Linda Hasenfratz


Source: Linamar

Another legacy in automotive, Linda Hasenfratz is the daughter of Linamar’s founder, and took the helm as CEO in 2002. Linamar is Canada’s second largest auto-parts manufacturer. Under her leadership, the company tripled its revenue by the end of 2013 and is continuing to experience rapid growth. In 2014, Hasenfrantz received the Ernst & Young Ontario Entrepreneur of the Year Award in Manufacturing and was chosen as the Entrepreneur of the Year for all of Canada.


Julie Hamp


Source: Toyota

Hamp is the Chief Communications Officer of Toyota Motor North America. She is in charge of the company’s communication and engagement efforts as Toyota launches new vehicles, spends more than $1.5 billion on U.S. products and operations, and reports record sales. Hamp was honored as a trailblazer at the Women and Power Feminist Press Gala in 2014.



These are just a few of the women who hold leadership positions in the automotive industry. As more young women are encouraged to explore STEM careers and executive roles, we are optimistic that women’s contributions to the automotive industry will continue to grow.

What other women do you think deserved a shout-out?