“If you can see it, you can be it!” Lyn St. James
While the automotive industry has been traditionally male-dominated, that does not mean there is no space left for others.
Women have long enjoyed driving their cars and watching motorsports on television. So why does the automotive industry still discount this important demographic, which represents 52% of the population? Add in the rising economic power of women in this country, and you end up with the setup for one of the most significant financial shifts in recent decades.
The bottom line: Women are generating and managing an increasing amount of wealth in the United States and have incredible buying power.
Women influence 85% of all vehicle purchase decisions and buy 54% of the cars in the United States. Yet most women dread the car-buying experience, with good reason. Women are often ignored, patronized, or ripped off at car dealerships. But the automotive industry is beginning to shift away from an all-boys club. So now might be one of the best times for a woman to feel confident in buying a car, even an exotic car, or building a career in the auto industry.
I began shifting the conversation to an inclusive car culture through collaborative efforts and events celebrating cars and car people, because I believe cars are for everyone. My agency, GSEvents, whose mission is getting women in the “Left Seat” with the brand Women Shifting Gears, is changing car culture.
My passion for automobiles started early. My father retired from General Motors and often wrenched at cars at home. My car résumé includes a 1964 1/2 Mustang, a 1968 Camaro, a 2006 911 Cabriolet Porsche named Linda, and many more. I have experience with NASCAR, the Petersen Automotive Museum, several Concours d’ Elegances, and more.
Through GSEvents, we have curated many “firsts” in automotive industry events, including the first women’s judging class at the Amelia Island and Hilton Head Island Concours and the first women’s symposium at the Pebble Beach Concours in 70 years.
One of my favorite ways of getting women in the “left seat” is through our program, Petal to the Metal, in which GSEvents partners with dealerships to create an immersive experience with women-only test drives in exotic cars like Aston Martins, Bentleys, and Ferraris. It’s rare that a woman who test drives an exotic car has ever driven one before, but to date over 300 women have now experienced test driving in the “left seat” of an exotic car — and yes, they are buying! An estimated ten exotic cars have been purchased to date.
Through our “Women Shifting Gears” podcast, hosted by Amanda Busick, 51 incredible women have shared their career journeys and have inspired others to consider a career in the automotive industry.
In October, at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, I am co-producing an event with Lyn St. James, the legendary IndyCar racer, co-founder of Women In Motorsports North America, and motivational speaker. Women With Drive II is designed for industry experts to share their stories of how and why they chose motorsports as a career, share best practices of what works (and what doesn’t), and discuss ways the industry can improve.
Women have succeeded in motorsports for decades as drivers, crew members, executives, track operators, officials, and volunteers. However, the numbers have been scattered throughout the industry. It’s mostly been here and there, as these women often get a sidebar story because men traditionally work in the sport.
The number of women successfully working and competing in all motorsport disciplines is now strong. Employers, race teams, and the media are spotlighting them, highlighting motorsports as gender-neutral where men and women work together and compete to win. All this is opening doors for the best and brightest to pursue a career in motorsports!
Advocating for women in motorsports is the single most significant growth opportunity in the industry, including growth in fans, sponsorships, social media, eyeballs, engineers, leadership roles, and every other aspect of the sport. Motorsports are among the few sports where women compete equally with and against men. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate how diversity and inclusion can work!
Women in Motorsports North America is the official beneficiary of the 2022 Women With Drive Summit.
Founded in 2022, Women in Motorsports North America’s mission is to encourage, support, and mentor more women to pursue careers in motorsport, educating them about the sport and the types of employment; to communicate how the industry can better reach, encourage and attract women to roles; and to advocate for and inspire more programs.
[Learn more: https://womeninmotorsportsna.com]