Although car industry professionals will no doubt look back at valuable lessons learned during the pandemic in years to come, no one will ever want to revisit the tough times Covid-19 has inflicted on the sector and the economy as a whole in 2020. On the cusp of an uncertain winter, there is still no clear exit strategy for any industry from the damage caused by the ongoing pandemic and like most sectors, the car industry is braced for an uncertain 2021.

However, as the motor industry collectively works towards a time when business booms again, could it be that the sudden and enforced changes in the motor industry will create more opportunities for women in this traditionally male-dominated industry?


A man’s world?


From childhood when boys were given toy cars for Christmas as their sisters received dolls, as a society traditionally we have been brought up to believe that whether we are playing, driving, buying, repairing, designing or selling, the world of cars is predominantly a man’s one.

Of course, times have changed with women now representing 35% of car owners in the UK and plenty of little girls playing with toy cars. However, the fact remains that the car industry remains very much a male-dominated environment. And although it is now thankfully outdated, everyone is still familiar with the stereotype of the sleazy used car salesman.


The future is flexible


However, according to one senior executive in the motor industry, all this could be set to change. Dr Astrid Fontaine, a board member at Bentley who is ranked as one of the 100 most powerful women in the engineering industry, recently told the BBC that although senior female executives remain scarce in the car industry, she is hopeful that the change in working practices across all industries will help women forge successful careers in the motor industry in a post-Covid landscape. “This opportunity to work remotely, collaborating on digital platforms – it removes any kind of barriers regarding where you are located; it removes the barriers created when, for example, you have to look after children or your family. You can be working from home, while doing that as well – so your multi-tasking opportunities and flexibility increase tenfold. And I think that’s why the environment will be so much more diverse!” she explained.


Driving towards digitalisation


Another salient point made by Dr Fontaine is that the traditional mechanical engineering skillset required to work in motor manufacturing is now only part of the picture. As electrification and digitalisation continue to make huge leaps and bounds with many car manufacturers following where Tesla leads, a far wider range of talented professionals is required to produce the vehicles needed for modern life. “You need system developers, skills in social media… and in this world of new skills we are looking for, we find a much broader pool of female candidates,” says Dr Fontaine.


Silver linings


As the motor industry continues to grapple with the serious challenges posed by Covid-19, looking to a brighter future where some of the changes caused by the pandemic can have a lasting positive effect on diversity in the workplace is surely something that the industry will welcome.


Innovating to meet demand


Interflex has manufactured acoustic, NVH and sealing solutions for the automotive industry since 2003. We are proud to be an inclusive company which welcomes diversity in the workplace.

For more information, please contact us on or 01949  861494.