From CEOs To Youtubers, These Women Are Disrupting The Male-Dominated Auto Industry

There are a number of women disrupting the auto industry on a number of fronts, and it means good news for any female who has ever felt intimidated by this world. Yes it is still very male-dominated, but with a number of women making strides in roles that previously did not exist for them, we can see how the industry is slowly starting to change.

Here are a list of women who are changing the auto game. From CEOs to entrepreneurs, to Youtubers, they are not only making inroads, but creating opportunities in the name of female empowerment.

Mary Barra – CEO of General Motors

She is undoubtedly the most powerful woman in the motor world. Mary Barra is the Chairperson and CEO of GM, and became the first female CEO of a major global automaker when she was appointed the role in 2014. Mary is also the wealthiest woman CEO according to the list of Fortune 500 Women CEOs based on the magazine’s 2017 list.

Mary joined General Motors in 1985 at a time when a female CEO of an auto company was inconceivable. She worked her way up, as a career engineer and was GM’s global product development chief before becoming CEO. She credits her upbringing and her parents for giving her the motivation to work hard and achieve success in her career.

“My mom and dad raised me and my brother to believe we could do anything we set our minds to. They were raised in the Depression, and they so believed in the American Dream,” she told USA Today.

Her barrier-breaking career has also made her realize the importance of encouraging other young women to know how they can change the status quo, and is adamant that women in the workforce shouldn’t be treated differently to men.

“I didn’t necessarily go, ‘I’m a woman in the working world’, I was a person in the working world. I do sit here today because there were people 20 years ago who gave me career opportunities and gave me constructive feedback and allowed me to grow and took risks on me with the jobs they put me in,” she said.

Today she is a huge supporter of New York-based Girls Who Code, a non-profit group encouraging middle and high school girls to learn computer science. Mary helped introduce the program to metro Detroit schools and has visited some of their meetings.

Within General Motors, she has certainly made her mark by changing the way the auto company does business. Industry insiders are taking notice.

“We’ve never seen anybody run GM like this. She’s breaking all the rules,” said Rebecca Lindland, executive analyst for Kelley Blue Book.

You can read more about Mary Barra here.

Leilani Munter – NASCAR Driver

When you think of NASCAR, you think of names like Dale Earnhardt Jr, no doubt. But that is going to change in the future if Leilani Munter has her way. This environmental activist and rev head plans to be the first woman to win the Daytona 500, and is determined to do it in an eco-friendly car.

Yep, not only is she representing the ladies on the race track, she is also using her growing fame in the racing world to raise awareness about clean energy and climate change. Discovery’s Planet Green named her the #1 eco athlete in the world. Leilani is an advocate for solar power, electric cars, plant-based diet and animal rights.

Since 2007, Leilani has been adopting an acre of rainforest for every race she runs, and her personal motto is “Never underestimate a vegan hippie chick with a race car.”.

Because of her activism on the track, she has been working with Tesla on creating the ultimate clean energy race car which will catapult her and the sport onto a whole other level should she start winning. More importantly, her presence within motor racing could eventually change the way everyday consumers purchase cars.

Whether it is a customer looking to trade in their vehicle for something more energy efficient, or negotiating with a salesperson at their local car dealer to find the best option for the environment, Leilani’s impact in the auto world cannot be underestimated at a time when conversations about climate policies are increasing.

You can read more about Leilani on her website and keep up to date with her advocacy and race results.

Patrice Banks – Girls Auto Clinic Founder

Patrice Banks may not be a household name like Mary Barra or Leilani Munter within the auto industry, but she has been getting plenty of media attention for the business she started in 2013. This former corporate professional decided to quit her job in 2011, after spending 12 years at a Fortune 500 company, to become a mechanic.

It sounds like a bold move, even risky perhaps, but it is paying off for Patrice and definitely impacting the women who are part of Girls Auto Clinic. She said the decision to make a major career change came about because of female empowerment. She and her friends were all successful, driven and independent women, but common among them was a feeling of inadequacy in the area of being able to fix their own cars.

That became the “ah-ha!” moment for her. The Philadelphia-based entrepreneur set about trying to find a female mechanic in her area to see if she and her friends could learn more about the trade but she couldn’t find even one. That’s how the idea for Girls Auto Clinic came about. After earning her mechanic’s license, Patrice started teaching workshops to women and still continues to do that to this day.

The women who attend the workshops are given information about on parts such as brake pads, rotors, air filters, shocks and more, and told what they should cost, what they do, and how often they should be replaced. She also opened a full service auto repair shop staffed by female mechanics in the summer of 2016. Whether it is a woman wanting to find a mechanic that can help her understand the ins and outs of her car, or a customer bringing in their Chevy Camaro for a quick tune-up or oil change, Patrice and her staff are changing the face of the everyday auto world.

Jessica Chou – Youtuber who teaches girls to fix their cars

Jessica Chou is helping disrupt the auto industry one Youtube video at a time! While most people think of popular female Youtubers creating make-up tutorials or lifestyle videos, Jessica is going against the grain all in the name of female empowerment.

Although she had no specific plans to teach girls the basics of car upkeep, the idea came about after trying to purchase a car off Craigslist in 2003 while in college. Like many women who have felt a similar level of intimidation, Jessica says she realized she was always relying on her dad for auto advice and help, and was sick of not always being taken seriously because of her gender, age, as well as ethnicity (she is of Asian descent).

Wanting to empower other young women to not feel intimidated to ask questions and know the basics of car mechanics, she launched a Youtube Channel where she teaches audiences simple car maintenance such as checking the oil, how to fix spark plugs and pumping up tires. Her channel has been growing in popularity and Jessica has been invited to the LA Auto Show and also visits local high schools in the Los Angeles area imparting her knowledge on teen girls.

Jessica has become somewhat of a role model to the younger generation, and together with the other women in this list (which is by no means exhaustive), we hope to see more of a female presence in the auto world until the phrase “male-dominated” no longer applies.

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