Things Need to Change for Women in the Automotive Industry

“Good old boy” culture is not only wrong, it’s going to cost dealerships big bucks in the future

OK, full transparency from me: I have a 27-year-old daughter who sells new cars at a dealership.

I can’t say that she has complained of any unfair situations at the dealership she works for. However, since I have been working with car dealers for about 40 years, I have seen some nasty things happen to women at dealerships over the years.

I don’t want any of them to happen to my daughter, or to any other women in the automotive industry.

Automotive News just ran a great section called Project XX: The Career Path for Women in its October 23 issue. Some of the information is downright shocking in regard to how some women are still treated in our industry.

If you are an old-style dealership that still underpays women, allows “good-natured” harassment (which you think is OK), or simply maintains a “good old boy” culture where women are secondary, you better stop it right now. It’s not OK.

This type of culture is not only wrong, it’s going to cost you big dollars in the future, and you will deserve what happens to you.

Women in the automotive industry are great at everything men are great at. Ten years ago, I was writing articles urging car salesmen not to ignore the woman shopping for a car with her husband. It’s the very best way to lose a sale.

Ten years later, it’s still a problem. If you own a car dealership, start hiring more women for every job, and pay them exactly what you pay men in the same job.

Save yourself some pain in the future, and do a culture check and a policy update at your dealership. Put aside any built-in assumptions you may have because you grew up in the sixties and seventies.

Heaven help the dealer who mistreats my daughter. You should be afraid of me, but you should really be afraid of her because I didn’t raise her to take any you-know-what from men, and all of her college friends are now lawyers.

Women in Automotive Conference: Palm Springs, CA, December 10–11

The third-annual Women In Automotive (WIA) Conference, co-sponsored by Dealer Marketing Magazine, is having its convention at the Omni Ranch Las Palmas December 10–11, right about the time you’re going to wish you were in Palm Springs.

The conference, founded by Christy Roman, president of automotive digital agency NowDigital, Inc.—and an accomplished bowler—has been growing since its first event in 2015.

From the WIA Conference description:

“The focus of the 2017 conference will be on educating and empowering women and men in the automotive community on thought leadership and trends that impact employment and sales growth. The Women in Automotive conference educational content fulfills a gap in the automotive community. The goal is to move the automotive industry forward as it relates to the most influential segment of the market: women.”

To find out more about the conference, to make reservations, and to sign up, visit the WIA website at and click on “Conferences,” or call WIA at (407) 412-9988.

Brett Stevenson


  1. Avatar
    @quadequick November 04, 2017

    Thanks for the article, Brett. The only thing I’d like to add has to do with dealership culture (which you correctly identified): if you can’t seem to attract female sales consultants or service advisors, you need to fix something. Are the hours ridiculous? Change them. Is the training substandard? Are your recruiting efforts ineffective? Hire professionals to do it for you. It continues to amaze me (and everyone nods in agreement when I say it) that women influence 80%+ of our sales & service opportunities, yet they account for somewhere under 10% of dealership staffing. Fix it!

    I wish your daughter all the best, Brett – I’m sure she’ll do great!

  2. Avatar
    Estelle Hinkle January 15, 2018

    I love this! I have been in the automotive industry for 18 years, everything you said is true. I’ve worked my way up and made it to a GSM role, and it completely stopped there. Even with 18 years in he business, I’ve applied for many General Manager positions and haven’t been hired, or even considered for one yet. My fiancé on the other hand, ( with much less experience) is now a Managing Partner at a big dealer group in our area. Thank you for writing this, it’s good to know I’m not alone.

  3. Avatar
    D smith August 18, 2018

    Here in Florida, women are simply not hired In most of the major automotive groups you will be hard pressed to find any women in management. Should you find a female manager, it’s in a BDC capacity or a random Finance position. Rarely if every behind the desk or allowed to negotiate on the floor. To add insult to injury we can’t even be considered for sales poisons regardless of experience, sales savvy, education or presentation skills.
    Interviews are a joke, giggling boys club mentality filled with eye rolling and chuffing .
    We are not represented because we cannot kick through the glass ceiling .

  4. Avatar
    debi smith August 18, 2018

    Dealerships simply chose not to hire women, especially here in Florida, I can name “2” women in relevant sales management positions, and mind you neither of them arrived to those positions by honest means.
    Educated, experienced sales savvy, I rarely get past an interview of giggling chuffing men. I have walked into every dealer in my area, no women sales reps and eye rolling managers discounting my out of state accomplishments wash out sheets, ( yes I come prepared ) oh… we will call for sure … half the time I can see the GM staring behind a glass door shaking his head no before bothering to even chat with me.
    My favorite? I interviewed with a group who asked me what my husband would think about me working in a dealership? I relied , “ not sure ask him your self “
    They did, and hired him as the GM

    The business simply needs updated to make logical sense.


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