A female auto CEO? Not if, just when
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Is there a pure meritocracy out there now? Do you have the same opportunities to rise in your companies as your male counterparts?
Ligocki: Not quite done yet.
Queen: If you're coming in today as a college graduate, I think the opportunities are pretty equal, if not even favored toward women. (But) there is still a bias that they are trying to fix. The higher levels are still tougher and tougher to push.
Terrell: We haven't seen women gain the top job in some of the operational areas. There are great levels of resistance to the first woman. But I don't think anymore that it's not possible; it just hasn't happened.
Ligocki: Not enough women are in senior line positions with enough experience to get up to the top yet. There are entry levels, (but) we lose a lot of them for a lot of different reasons. You have to say, "Well, why are we losing so many talented people, both men and women actually, from this business?" Is it still too hierarchical? Is it still too traditional? Why are we not bringing out the best people? Women who have lots of other life choices often make them. How many women do we all know who left not to join another company but to start their own business?
Kathleen, you might have been on the short list for CEO at Ford Motor Co. had you not left to join Tower. Today, if you look at the lists of potential CEOs at the Big 3, there are no women.
Ligocki: It's the next barrier to be broken. I'd love to see a woman running a car company some day.
Stevens: You're looking at six women in this room that have the qualities to do it. I think that the skills and the experience are out there. Yes, you have to perform, meet your objectives, have the experience and the education, but you have to be durable. There's enough of us around that are durable enough to do it. And it will happen. It may not happen next year or the year after, but it's going to happen. Companies can no longer ignore the talents of women.
Terrell: With the competitive environment that we're in, diversity is a business imperative. I feel very confident I'm going to see it happen in my career.
Ligocki: How much longer are you going to work?
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