GM’s Women’s Retail Network: Launching new scholarship program

With General Motors Co. making such a big splash when it filed paperwork that will lead to one of the largest public stock offerings ever, there is little wonder something so nondescript as a scholarship program would make barely a ripple.

But considering how important the preparation of the next generation of auto executives and dealers is, this program is worth mentioning.

GM’s Women’s Retail Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary next year by launching a scholarship program to encourage women to pursue careers in automotive retail. The network’s dealer development scholarship program is for women enrolled in undergraduate, graduate and nontraditional educational institutions that offer degrees in automotive retail.

“Our dealer advisory council agreed that the time was right to launch a scholarship program that might help influence more women to consider a career as general/executive manager or owner/operator of a GM dealership,” said Marina Shoemaker, director of the retail network, in a statement.

The scholarships will be available beginning in 2011 in amounts up to $5,000. Applications will be accepted starting in January; recipients are to be announced in May.

Being involved with a special section here at Automotive News highlighting the achievements of women in the auto industry to be published on Sept. 13, I know there are woefully few women who own and/or manage dealerships.

According to the National Automobile Dealers Association, about 750 of the nation’s 18,300 new-car dealerships are owned by women.

So here’s an early happy birthday wish to the program: May it continue to thrive and cultivate many new generations of dealers.