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How Women Can Help Drive The Future Of The Automotive Industry If automotive companies are not proactive in creating and promoting an appealing workplace conducive to gender equality, they might miss vital competitive advantages.

By Berna Akinci Edited by Aby Sam Thomas

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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For a long time, vehicles -and an entire sector behind its production- have been associated with masculine interests. However, with the advancement of society, more women have shown their capability to fulfill important roles in various industries, including the automotive sector.

We see more women taking jobs that were previously labeled ''for men only," including leading boardrooms across the globe. These changes are most certainly a welcome change, and we believe there is still a huge space for women to excel in the automotive industry. It is the right time for women to take up key roles, lead, and create impact on communities.

However, it is important to take time to assess the changes in the sector and work with areas that need more improvement. This will help address the global efforts to reduce the gender gap, and create a more empowered women workforce.

The first step is to examine the work distribution about gender pay in this sector traditionally dominated by men. We found that an increasing number of women are employed in automotive; however, some areas such as production floors still see a lower ratio. This impacts the overall gender pay gap.

Often, the case is not about discrimination, but rather about skills and drive. In this context, many female automotive technicians gain advantage to be paid higher than their male counterparts, owing to the special ability to excel in a largely men-dominated field. This drive often increases productivity, promotions, and eventually, higher pay.

However, a larger paycheck should be based on performance, regardless of gender, to ensure fairness as employers need to strive towards gender equality, while rewarding efforts and abilities. The most important focus should be how to increase gender balance across all business areas and operations.

Related: Women In Finance: Time To Do Away With The Glass Ceiling

Another factor is the technology, which can support in enabling true diversity in the workplace and play a significant role in the growing number of women in automotive. It offers the chance to level the playing field. As the concept of a vehicle moves away from just being a transportation tool towards a service-based consumer device, women can fulfil a significant gap in skills shortage considering their expertise, abilities, and skills. In addition, thanks to the flexibility provided by technology, women are also given the chance to continue working with schemes such as work from home, remotely operating machines, or participating in projects.

The industry sees women as leaders and technical experts, changing and breaking gender stereotypes. Indeed, things have improved, and technology integration adds value not just to female employees. It has also paved the way for increased job posts, hence, more opportunities for everyone.

One of the key challenges in the sector is how to retain women employees, and attract more that would be engaged in driving growth within the sector. Leaders and executives play an important role in making this happen by adopting and promoting the importance of diversity and inclusion in the sector right from their level and capacity. For instance, board composition, succession planning, and hiring practices should align with the principles and goals of creating an attractive working environment for female employees.

If automotive companies are not proactive in creating and promoting an appealing workplace conducive to gender equality, they might miss vital competitive advantages. Leaders should develop a comprehensive understanding of what makes the sector attractive to women, then explore opportunities that could attract female employees.

Encouraging women early and often to pursue career ambitions in this sector will provide more reasons to stay in the company. Leaders should explore ways to encourage them by removing the biases that discourage them from joining the sector, such as ensuring a work-life balance, and introducing mentorship or sponsorship programs to assist them in career growth. This will help them move forward in the path that they want to take.

Just like every industry, the automotive sector is far from perfect. However, the increasing number of women in the field is a major milestone and sets a benchmark for more industries to provide more opportunities. It all starts with recognizing and respecting diversity, acknowledging ideas from diverse viewpoints, as well as establishing a system where employees can perform their duties and demonstrate their abilities with peace of mind.

With this, we can expect and see more women taking the driver's seat of their lives and contribute to the industry's growth, steering it towards a more sustainable, gender-equal, and advanced future.

Related: Dispelling The Myth: How To Build A Unicorn Startup

Berna Akinci

Head of Marketing, Bridgestone Middle East and Africa

Berna Akinci is the Head of Marketing at Bridgestone Middle East and Africa. 
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