The automotive industry joins tech in expanding the diversity of their leadership by announcing the first female CEO of a global automaker.

By Betsy Mikel (Contributing Writer, Women 2.0)

Tech isn’t the only dude-dominated industry where women are making enormous strides. Old-school industries typically lack diverse leadership, but today’s announcement from General Motors shows the automotive industry is driving in the right direction.

In January, 51-year-old Mary Barra will become the first female leader of a global automaker. She will succeed CEO Dan Akerson, who accelerated his retirement so he could spend more time with his wife, who has advanced cancer.

Barra was the only female of the four internal candidates considered for the position. She has been with the company for 33 years and currently holds the role of executive vice president of global product development where she manages design, engineering and quality of GM vehicles. According to Associated Press, Barra led development of the Chevrolet Silverado truck, the GMC Sierra truck, the Chevrolet Impala car and new Chevrolet Corvette. Previously, she held roles in engineering and assembly.

Associated Press interviewed Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, about Barra’s new position:

“There’s nobody with more years of honest ‘car-guy’ credentials than she has,” Gordon said. “She started off as a little-girl car guy. She became a big-girl car guy and how she’s a woman car guy. She’s the one to do the breakthrough,” Gordon said.

In a statement to the company, GM called Barra “a leader in the company’s ongoing turnaround, revitalizing GM’s product-development process resulting in the launch of critically acclaimed new products while delivering record product-quality ratings and higher customer satisfaction.”


Photo via Fortune Live Media / Flickr.

What other industries do you think have the most catching up to do when it comes to appointing female leaders?

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.