"It was always a joke that it took me substantially longer to get into technical calls the first time that I dealt with a customer because I had to prove that I knew what I was talking about before they would let me talk about it," she said.
Women responding to the Automotive News Project XX Survey said they regularly are questioned by automotive clients, customers and peers about their expertise and credibility. No matter how high their level, many women regularly have to prove their skills and knowledge.
And often, men will ignore a woman with more experience to address a less-knowledgeable man. Here are some comments that stood out:
"Many times I am not sought out for information in my expert area," one respondent said. "They assume I am my male counterpart's assistant. When both of us are in the office, colleagues will walk past me to ask him questions instead of approaching me. I sit in a way that in order to speak with him, people must walk right past me."
One woman who is an injection-molding expert said that at least once a year, someone rolls his eyes when she talks about how to reduce scrap or troubleshoot a problem. "I have been recognized as a technical expert in my company and have given technical papers at conferences, and still there are colleagues or other superiors within the company who choose not to follow my recommendations."
One woman has a gender-ambiguous name and said that she gets more respect when she communicates with new business associates via email. "As soon as we meet via telephone or video conference, I feel like I am starting at square one with proving I can do the job and know what I'm talking about." And several times, people have asked her to identify herself once a video conference starts because they were expecting a man in her place.
There are many reasons for bias, so it's "hard to pin down which is the root cause," said Cheryl Thompson, CEO of leadership training group Lead One Lead All and a retired Ford Motor Co. engineer. "Women generally don't have as much confidence, so we show up different."
A male manager once told her: "Men are all bullshit and bravado." He said if he asked a man to take his seat tomorrow, the man would jump at the opportunity with full confidence even if he wasn't ready. A woman, however, likely would be more cautious and say she wasn't ready, which would give a manager little reason to put confidence in her, he told Thompson.
Many women are "almost creating that evidence that reinforces that perception that we're not as good as our male peers," Thompson said.