Call it a comeback.
The progress of women in the auto industry in the last five years is undeniable. After the Great Recession and massive cost-cutting reduced leadership roles for women in the industry in 2010, those opportunities have rebounded in 2015.
A comparison of the 2015 and 2010 Automotive News lists of 100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry confirms that the status of women in the industry has improved since 2010. There are six CEOs among automakers and suppliers on the list this year, up from two in 2010 -- the last time the list was compiled. Another three on the current list are CEOs of automaker or supplier units. None fit that description in 2010.
Among the 2015 honorees, 73 have executive officer titles or are owners of their companies. That's up from 63.
One company with an executive on the list -- rental car giant Enterprise Holdings -- is largely run by women. It has a female CEO, Pam Nicholson. Next in line is also a woman, Nicholson said. Six of the 13 directors on Enterprise's board are women.
"As the industry has been coming out of the crisis, there have been many more opportunities available, and many of them have been filled by women," said Chris Barman, vice president of engineering at FCA US. "There are more roles of responsibility, at higher levels, for women, and I think it will continue to improve even more in the coming years."
And the knockout punch: Mary Barra is now CEO of General Motors.