28th June, 2016

Why aren't there more women in the Irish Automotive sector?

With car sales on the rise, the Motor Industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in Ireland but why is it difficult for women to make it their career?
28th June, 2016
Why aren't there more women in the Irish Automotive sector?
With car sales on the rise, the Motor Industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in Ireland but why is it difficult for women to make it their career?
CSO
Code: "Wholesale and retail trade and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles"
female participation in the automotive sector
How does Ireland fare against other countries?
Ireland has a 17% female participation rate in the Motor Industry and while greatly unbalanced, ranks above the EU average of 15%.
Female participation in the Automotive sector in Europe
"Wholesale and retail trade and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles" sector (in thousands)


EU TOTAL
FRANCE
GERMANY
IRELAND
PORTUGAL
UK
ITALY
NETHERLANDS
SPAIN
POLAND
ROMANIA
% FEMALES

15.37%
19,56%
18,92%
16,97%
15,96%
15,95%
14,69%
14,54%
13,45%
9,98%
9,74%
TOTAL FEMALES

597
78
159
6
16
75
60
15
41
31
15
TOTAL MALES

3288
321
681
31
84
396
348
91
268
287
139
Female participation in the Automotive sector in Europe (by percentage)
"Wholesale and retail trade and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles" sector
The above countries are ranked by the highest percentage of female workers in the automotive retail sector. Germany, as an industrial powerhouse, employing the largest number of people overall.

FEMALE PARTICIPATION TRENDS
On a Europe-wide level, according to data from Eurostat, 647,900 women worked in the automotive sector in Europe in 2008. This dropped to 597,100 in 2015, a decline of over 50,000 female workers.

While we can't assume that these job losses were a direct result of the downturn of the European automotive industry, the sector as a whole experienced a dramatic downturn during this period.

Despite this, a report by Deloitte of the North American automotive sector, noted that 64% of women have seen some positive change in the automotive industry's attitude toward women. At the same time, 61% of women would encourage their daughter or female family member to pursue a career in an automotive industry. This may have a positive impact on the increased participation of women in this industry in the future.

TECHNIQUES TO ATTRACT FEMALE WORKFORCE
With no specific gender breakdown available for employment within Irish car dealerships, looking to the US, last year NADA (National Automobile Dealers Association) worryingly reported a 90% annual turnover rate for women in car dealership sales roles, 25 percentage points higher than male sales consultant turnover rates.

So how are some US dealerships attracting a female workforce? EchoPark Automotive, a used car retailer in the US, uses the following techniques :

  1. Switching to salary-based compensation
  2. Providing for a more flexible workplace
  3. Investing in training and mentorship
  4. Employing non-automotive people in addition
  5. Establishing clearly defined career paths
  6. Promoting inclusion and diversity

An article published by the website Automotive News listed additional techniques:

  1. Promote visible female role models
  2. Educate young women on career opportunities
  3. Have full-time recruiters focus heavily on finding and hiring female managers
  4. Promote mother-friendly work environment

BARRIERS FOR WOMEN
When it comes to the barriers for women entering the automotive retail industry, there are several of note:
1. The sector is not able to attract "women for entry-level positions" due to the pre-existing notion of the industry being male dominated and the existence of a "perception problem"

Across most industries, there's a clear gender disparity at the top but in some sectors, including automotive, it's hard for women to even get a foot in the door. In the automotive industry in the US, just 26% of women make up entry-level roles, and only a fraction go on to advance to C-suite positions.
McKinsey and Leanin.org study of women in the workplace
2015 joint research by McKinsey & leanin.org
2. Women are underrepresented in "the talent pipeline"
3. Women attend industry feeder programs (education) in low rates
4. Concerns that the sector does not provide a family-friendly work environment for women
5. Women think that there is a lack of work life balance in the industry
6. Women consider the sector as lacking advancement opportunities
7. Occasionally unattractive income/pay


START MONDAY'S VIEW
From our perspective, as dedicated recruiters working in the automotive sector, we have seen a positive trend towards the hiring of women in the sector. Within the last 12 months, we have seen a significant increase in the presence of female employees not only within car dealerships but also working across a range of roles on behalf of vehicle manufacturers/distributors.

While this is certainly a positive trend, there is still a significant gender disparity in our sector, particularly in the areas of sales and management. When we compare the presence of women within other retail sectors against that of the automotive sector, this must be cause for alarm.
When we compare the presence of women within other retail sectors against that of the automotive sector, this must be cause for alarm.
The industry still has a long long way to go to present itself as an environment that is open and welcoming to female candidates and in terms of family friendly practices, unfortunately, we as a sector lag way behind.

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