We got a lot of email last week following the publication of our survey of women in the auto industry, which we called Project XX. A lot of women thanked us for talking openly about the issues they face every day.
But one email that stuck with me came from a male friend who recounted an evening out after the Paris auto show a few years ago. He was standing in the hotel bar with several male colleagues, and a female colleague who was passing through the lobby on her way back to her room popped in to say goodnight to everyone.
The conversation was warm, everyone all smiles, happy in the way people are when they get to visit Europe, eat lavishly and drink fancy wines on the corporate tab. One of the men in the group put his arm around the woman's shoulders, and then, in front of everyone, he reached over and grabbed her breast.
My friend was struck not only by that brazen act, but what happened next: The woman lifted the man's arm off her shoulder, ducked away from him, quickly said goodnight and walked out of the bar. Her reaction, my friend said, seemed swift and automatic.