Driving success

The future expansion of the automotive industry lies in encouraging more women to break gender stereotypes and take on important roles

By Muhammad Ali Bandial

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Published: Tue 26 Oct 2021, 3:49 PM

The automotive industry has come a long way in the last two decades, from the development of vehicle sensors to autonomous driving and technologies like Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto that allow consumers to enjoy the functionality of a phone without having to pick one up. But there's one more thing that needs to change and that is gender diversity within the aftersales automotive industry.

For many years, the automotive industry has been one that has been predominantly represented by males, particularly in sales and management. As it stands, auto brands are overwhelmingly male-centric, and they are still struggling to attract women to this expanding but stigmatised industry.

Moreover, this disparity is a major reason why many women currently working in the auto industry would change careers if allowed to start over.

Furthermore, nearly two-thirds of women in the automotive industry express a lack of diversity and inclusion as the main reason why they don’t want a career in the industry to begin with.

Resultantly, attracting and retaining female talent in the industry is a challenge. According to a Deloitte study, 57 per cent of women working in the automotive industry believe there is a gender bias in leadership positions. If women in the sector do not see a clear path to advancement, they are unlikely to stay for long.

The good news is that recently, the industry has started shifting gears and recognising the positive contribution made by women.

Female mechanics, technicians, or vehicle designers were not even considered in the past. Fortunately, this is changing, and women are increasingly playing a more prominent role in the aftersales automotive industry. Women are beginning to lead the industry, not just because they are doing many of the professions previously thought to be only for men, but because they are doing them just as well.

Some of the reasons why women are hesitant to work in the after sales automotive management are mentioned below:

- Being a female leader in a male-dominated industry is not something a woman fantasizes about. The number of young females who have been captivated by cars is quite low.

- Another reason women avoid the aftersales-automotive sector is the lack of interest. The environment is not appealing to them and they feel under-represented. They're aware that if they choose this path, they'll have fewer prospects for promotion than their male co-workers.

- Some women avoid joining the aftersales-automotive industry because they need a flexible schedule and work-life balance according to a report by Deloitte which may be difficult to achieve in this industry.

However, there are ways to remedy the situation. Some of the initiatives that can be adopted to improve the current disparity are mentioned below:

- If more women in the automotive industry start coaching, helping and supporting one another, more women will feel like they belong in this field. They will be more motivated to advance their careers as well.

- Companies that use gender-neutral terminology in job listings are creating a culture of inclusion and equality by opening doors for women.

This sector is gradually changing especially in the UAE where we are noticing that some qualified women mechanics and service advisors are joining the industry.

Huda al-Matroushi is one of few Emirati women to venture into the car repair business. She turned this passion into a career and now owns and runs a car repair shop in Sharjah, UAE.

Another woman who discovered her passion for cars and their design is Pragya Charu Manihar. Today, she is the co-owner of an eclectic industrial design firm that deals with technology, art and design.

Additionally, Gargash Auto, a German car garage in Al Quoz, appointed its first-ever female Senior Service Advisor, Dianne Lim in July this year, to assist customers with their car problems.

“Dianne is an inspiring individual in the automotive industry and we are absolutely pleased to welcome her to the Gargash Auto family. We want to challenge traditional perceptions and are very firm advocates of more women applying for such roles within our company” said Amir Pervaiz, General Manager at Gargash Auto.

Amir also mentioned how the number of female customers has increased at Gargash Auto ever since Dianne got on board.

Despite the percentage of women in the automotive industry being low, those who are extremely passionate about what they do, whether it be automotive repairs, designing, planning operations or even overseeing vehicle production. If the trend continues, the future is not far off when we shall witness women cementing a firm position for themselves in what has for long been a male dominated industry.

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