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The Shift in the Automotive Industry Continues: Honda Names First Female to Board

General Motors recently named a female CEO and Honda just appointed Hideko Kunii as its first female board member. 

By Betsy Mikel (Contributing Writer, Women 2.0)

Late last year, General Motors made headlines by appointing its first female CEO, Mary Barra. Not to be outdone, Honda just appointed Hideko Kunii to its board. Kunii, who is in charge of promoting gender equality at the University of Tokyo, is Honda’s first female board member.

Whatever Honda’s motivations are — whether they’re trying to catch up to GM or made this decision independently of what their competitors are doing — we’re certainly happy to hear this news. More women in leadership and on executive boards in a male-dominated field is a milestone for both women and the automotive industry.

Independent automotive analyst Michelle Kreb told Benzinga this appointment is significant because the Japanese have been accused for lacking diversity on their boards.

“We’re operating in a global auto industry with a great diversity of car buyers.” Kreb said, “It’s important to have different voices on the boards making decisions about products and services.”

According to Associated Press, Honda officials said Kunii was picked because she was the right person for the job, not because of her gender. In Krebs’ interview with Benzinga, she reaffirmed that women are being appointed to these roles not simply because they are female, but because they are the most qualified people for the positions.

“Women have been in the industry long enough that they have acquired the expertise, and it’s time to move them up to these positions,” she said.

After the appointments of Barra and Kunii, Krebs said she thinks other carmakers like Ford and Chrysler will be under pressure to appoint more women to board and leadership roles.

What automotive company would you like to see bring a woman on its board next?

Photo via harry_nl / flickr.

BMikelPhotoSquareBetsy Mikel is a freelance copywriter and content strategist who helps brands, businesses and entrepreneurs tell their stories. A journalist at heart, her curiosity drives her to find something new to learn every single day. Follow her on Twitter at @betsym.