The fifth annual What Drives Her Program was held on February 11 as part of the Chicago Auto Show’s Media Preview. Each year, female forces within the auto industry join to recognize top successes as well as share advice and their personal stories. This includes women retailers, suppliers, manufacturers, and media moguls throughout the United States who continue to succeed in the auto industry. The What Drives Her program is just one of many resources for women within the industry, which includes all women from auto buyers to auto executives.
2022 What Drives Her Awards
While many women joined in Chicago for the event, three awards were given out including Best Retailer, Rising Star, and Best in Craft Media.
The 2022 Best Retailer award was given to Megan Deters, who serves as the sales manager for Brilliance Honda in Crystal Lake, Illinois. Deters said that she knows the challenge of being a female in the auto industry is “the environment that would allow [her] to grow,” and added that she feels customers feel less pressured to buy a vehicle when speaking to a female salesperson as opposed to male counterparts.
While women from Toyota, Stellantis, and Hyundai were in the running for the 2022 Rising Star award, it was ultimately given to Linda Zhang, who is the chief engineer behind the revolutionary Ford F-150 Lightning pickup truck. Zhang said she was honored to receive the award and that her team has been “working diligently” on the truck, which is slated to be delivered sometime in the Spring.
The Best in Craft Media Award was given to Sue Mead, who is one of the most prominent freelance writers in the auto industry and also holds a spot in the Off Road Motorsports Hall of Fame. Mead said it was an “honor” and added that she will savor the experience because her granddaughter was in attendance to see her receive the award. Mead added that the auto industry has drastically changed since she entered into it almost 35 years ago and said that she and her colleagues “truly support each other.”
The What Drives Her Program is just one part of a wide realm of female-focused car education and collaboration sources. Female entrepreneurs are rapidly entering the auto industry compared to previous decades, as it is losing its status as a male-only industry. As Jody DeVere, CEO of AskPatty.com, once said, “Can we all just stop assuming that women are afraid of challenges and don’t want to have big adventures?!”
AskPatty.com is a top resource for both consumers and auto dealers, keeping them updated with automotive research and advice for both purchasing and selling cars and other automotive products and services, including repairs. It also offers its Certified Female Friendly® program, which “trains and certifies automotive retail and service centers on how to attract, sell, retain and increase loyalty with women customers.” You can find Certified Female Friendly locations on the left-hand side of AskPatty’s website.
Auto repairs have long been thought of as a male-only profession that women are not educated on and are, frankly, scared of. However, Women Auto Know is an excellent reference for driver education as well as improving the stigma around mechanic shops. The website can direct visitors to a database of auto shops that have taken the “Women Auto Know pledge” to provide clean, reliable, honest, and friendly service.
For thrill-seeking women, Ladies Offroad Network is another excellent resource catering to all women regardless of their career choices or experience with off-roading. The network offers an international online community, events, an online store, and both online and in-person hands-on education. The Women Automotive Network and Women In Automotive are two additional networks that support the expanding involvement of women in the auto industry.
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