I was awe-struck by the turnout we had last week at the ceremony honoring the 100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry, as compiled by Automotive News.
It's the third time we've done it, so I knew it would be a swell event.
But I was surprised at how big a deal this has become across the industry.
Jim Farley, Mark Fields and Tony Brown were just a few of the Ford Motor Co. heavy hitters who turned out. Farley told me that Ford's 16 women on the list had a celebration -- cake included -- during a meeting of the company's top execs.
AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson and COO Michael Maroone came to honor their colleague, Donna Parlapiano, an AutoNation senior vice president. Maroone told me that by the next time Automotive News does the list, he expects to have more AutoNation execs in a position to be on it.
Among the more than 500 attendees, there were many other supportive CEOs and COOs.
But women also brought parents, husbands, children, colleagues -- even childhood chums -- to help them celebrate.
There are plenty of lists and honors and parties in the auto industry. Heck, Automotive News sponsors some of the very finest.
But recognizing 100 leading women in the industry is different.
A lot has changed since I started reporting on the auto industry in 1972. Back then, you could count the number of women in positions of influence on one hand -- and still have a thumb and a couple of fingers left over.
But now Ford and some other companies have programs to develop, mentor and encourage women to assume more responsibility and advance in their ranks.
Ford and General Motors Co. each had 16 women on the list, but if you paid attention, you could see the differences. For example, Ford women dominated the engineering category, while GM women dominated in manufacturing.
"It's important to us,'' Farley told me.
You could tell.