Female engineers and product developers are becoming more common these days. That's a positive development for auto companies and their customers.
But it's even more welcome to see women in the perceived men-only realm of pickups. It's a signal that automakers and suppliers are successfully recruiting and promoting a greater diversity of talent.
It's always useful to gain a wider perspective and different life experiences in the teams working on new products. Automakers have worked diligently to reach this point.
Diversity is especially important on products such as full-size pickups. They are high-volume, high-profit vehicles and must be highly flexible tools.
Two emerging trends underscore the importance of getting input from women. For starters, the users are no longer just men. About one in seven pickup buyers is a woman.
Secondly, pickups are primarily work vehicles, but their role is expanding. A Chrysler executive says crew cabs are now 70 percent of the sales mix. Sitting in the back may be work crews or families.
But even as work trucks, modern pickups are more complex than the stereotype of brawny men hauling heavy stuff. A pickup also may serve as office, shelter, personal locker, tool room, lunch wagon and power source for tools, electronics and communications.
Pickups have become some of the best vehicles in North America in part because their makers correctly chose talented people, regardless of gender, for their development teams.