Women have long been underrepresented in engineering positions. And in the male-dominated car business, the odds seem especially stacked against them.
But that didn’t stop Laurie Transou, chief engineer for the Ford Mustang Dark Horse, the company’s latest muscle car.
“Within the auto industry, there’s all kinds of opportunities for young women interested in engineering,” Transou recently told Yahoo Finance from the 2023 New York Auto Show.
Women make up roughly half the United States workforce, but occupy around merely 30 percent of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) jobs. Meanwhile, they make up just one quarter of the auto industry, according to Deloitte.
“STEM is a great place to start. So I’d absolutely encourage people who are interested in engineering to learn more about it, get involved with STEM,” Transou said. “There’s tons of mentor programs.”
For example, Women in STEM, an organization working internationally to promote women in stem, has a program that pairs young women with mentors in industry.
Though men have historically dominated the auto industry, women have become more visible in leadership roles. For instance, Mary Barra, who leads General Motors, became the first female CEO of a major car company when she took over in 2014. Also, Donna Dickson has served as the chief engineer of the Mustang Mach-E, Ford’s electric SUV since 2021.
Transou affirmed that there’s more to engineering jobs in the auto industry than “the nuts and bolts.”
“It’s fun. We do strategy. … We think about what products could be. We think about our customers and how we appeal to them. So it’s really a fun job. I want to make sure young women understand that, too.”