Knowledge Center

Women in the Automotive Industry


The Automotive Industry Is Showing Little Progress in Gender Diversity Among Executive Teams1

In 2018, only 16 women (8%) were executives in the top 20 motor vehicles and parts companies in the Fortune Global 500. This is a small change from 14 women (7%) in 2014.2

  • Over half of the top 20 companies in this industry have zero women on their executive teams.3

Over half (56%) of C-suite leaders in the global automotive industry point to women as a critical pool of underutilized talent.4


In 2016, women accounted for:5

  • Automobile dealers: 23.5%.
  • Motor vehicle manufacturing: 19.9%.
  • Automotive repair and maintenance: 13.7%.


Women Are Underrepresented in Automotive Manufacturing Across Most Countries in Europe6
Percentage of Women (Aged 15 Years and Older) Employed in the Manufacture of Motor Vehicles, Trailers, and Semi-Trailers7
European Union 24.2%
Germany 17.6%
France 17.9%
Italy 19.4%
Sweden 24.4%
United Kingdom 15.8%


Percentage of Women (Aged 15 Years and Older) Employed in Wholesale and Retail Trade and Repair of Motor Vehicles and Motorcycles8
European Union 15.6%
Germany 20.1%
France 16.5%
Italy 14.7%
Sweden 14.4%
United Kingdom


United States

Although Women Are Almost Half of the US Labor Force, They Represent Only About One-Quarter of the Automotive Workforce9

Women held 26.7% of jobs in the motor vehicles and motor vehicles equipment manufacturing industry in 2017.10

  • In the same year, women of color made up a fraction of employees in the motor vehicles and motor vehicles equipment manufacturing industry:11
    • Black women: 6.4%.
    • Asian women: 1.8%.
    • Latinas: 2.7%.

Specific occupations in the automotive industry are male-dominated. In 2017, women represented:12

  • 21.8% of automobile dealers.
  • 9.6% of automotive repair and maintenance employees.
Women Are Underrepresented Throughout the Automotive Manufacturing Pipeline13 

The industry has difficulty attracting women into entry-level positons.14

  • In the automotive and industrial manufacturing industry, women’s representation at the entry level starts out small (26%), and is even smaller in higher-level positions: manager (20%), senior manager/director (20%), VP (18%), SVP (16%), and C-Suite (13%).15

In a survey of women in various industries, respondents reported that the automotive industry was one of the least successful at attracting and retaining women.16

In 2014, Mary Barra became CEO of General Motors in the United States and the first woman to run a major auto maker.17

Women Report High Levels of Bias and Sexual Harassment18

In the automotive industry, women report higher rates of sexism and sexual harassment compared with the tech and advertising industries, including:19

  • Being tasked with lower-level assignments compared to their male peers (65%).
  • Unwanted sexual advances (65%).
  • Feeling unsafe at work (25%).

Additional Resources

Automotive Industries Association of Canada, Advancing Women in Automotive Knowledge Exchange (AWAKE) Needs Assessment Report (2016).

Catalyst, Quick Take: Women in Male-Dominated Industries and Occupations.

Deloitte, Women at the Wheel: Recruiting, Retaining, and Advancing Women in the Global Automotive Industry (2016).

Caitlin Kelly, "A Woman’s Touch, Still a Rarity in Car Design," The New York Times, October 29, 2013.

Wheels for Women, "Cars Designed by Women" (December 12, 2013).


How to cite this product: Catalyst, Quick Take: Women in the Automotive Industry (August 21, 2018).