Automotive manufacturers are staffing up for a new wave of technological innovation, and many realize they need a more diverse pool of talent — especially women — to get the job done.
The question now looming? How to recruit young women to a field long perceived as male turf, and how to keep them engaged and challenged.
Women in management at Continental's North American headquarters outside Detroit this month entertained a group of local junior high and high school girls, with the hope of encouraging them to consider careers in automotive technology.
Beyza Sarioglu, head of Continental's hybrid electric vehicle business unit for North America, told the students there is something unnatural about the absence of women in the auto industry.
"It's not weird after a while, because you get used to it," she told the young women. "But then when you stop and think, you're like, 'This is not normal,'" she said, referring to the lack of female colleagues throughout her career.
"It shouldn't be this way. We need to change this, and that's why I'm trying to educate young ladies like yourselves to actually go into STEM fields — because it's really fulfilling, it's really interesting, and it's really fun once you're in."
The purpose of the luncheon was to show the students women in top-level positions at Continental, to inspire girls to pursue careers in technology. Afterward, the students were invited to tour Continental's engineering garage to learn more about the technologies in development at the supplier.