By on December 11, 2010

While I was working for the German auto industry (and that wasn’t that long ago), I used to call it the last outpost of unabashed male chauvinism. From dealers (where female customers are treated with disdain) to the boardroom (where women serve coffee), the business remains a man’s world. BMW wants to do something about it. Come on, BMW?

BMW is (unofficially) considered as the brand and company with the most Y chromosomes. BMW wants to change that. At least back home. Automobilwoche [sub] reports that the Bavarian automaker currently has only 8.7 percent of females “in leading positions.”  BMW wants to double that number, says Harald Krüger, head of HR at BMW. “Our plan is 15 to 17 percent.”

But BMW is in no great hurry for chasing women (at least when it comes to leading positions.) The target is for 2020. And in any case, it’s a target, no fixed quota.

Y chromosomes, don’t worry. You are safe in a BMW.

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36 Comments on “BMW Wants More Women...”

  • avatar

    This is long overdue; they can enlarge their customer base this way while cleaning up their image. BMW cars are magnificent, yet people prefer Audis because BMW has the image of having a certain type of alpha male jerk inside.

  • avatar

    I used to work for one of the biggest chemical companies in the world. I now work for the other biggest chemical company in the world. I remember one meeting in which a senior executive droned on and on about diversity and how important it was to the company. The room consisted of roughly 50 people ranging from senior engineering to just a step away from CEO. There was one black man and one white woman present. She was serving refreshments. The remainder was white men. Diversity indeed.

    • 0 avatar

      You can help as more diversity is simple. Just quit your job and demand that they give it to a woman or minority. Or was it just the other white guys you wanted for them to replace?

  • avatar

    8.7 women in leadership positions? That 0.7 must be a part-timer, maybe in food services or coffee prep? Har har har.
    Seriously, someone should write a book about the amazing, tormented history of gender in the auto industry. (I remember how successful the ’96 Taurus was supposed to be, with its woman-designed ovoid shapes). My gut tells me that Bill Mitchell was no aberration.

  • avatar

    the problem is women aren’t determined enough
    here’s a simple analogy… how many really successful women race drivers are there?  besides window dressing like Danica Patrick, pretty much nil
    because they’re not willing to devote their lives to it
    how many women are in mechanical engineering? of course you get a fair few women in american auto companies where they take any turkey with an MBA… (cue Doherty) but I doubt they will be that easy in Germany…

    • 0 avatar

      “the problem is women aren’t determined enough”
      That just might be the dumbest statement I have ever read in the TTAC comments.

    • 0 avatar

      the problem is women aren’t determined enough
      This is so full of shit I had to jump into the safety boat with the boots and raincoat, and even so I got flooded.
      Some years ago, the Commercial Director for a very reputable Heavy Truck company here was a woman. And poor of those who had to receive her EPIC kicks in their asses.
      I’ve seen women as Civil, Mechanical, Industrial, Electrical, Electronic and other engineers. Most of my staff was comprised of Industrial Engineers, who are very fucking determined.

  • avatar

    This is sad, but not unexpected.  The feminization of our culture is degrading, and you’d think that there could be at least one area–hot cars–where hot (or not) women are excluded.  On the other hand, it has been my experience that often BMW drivers are clueless women from the secretarial pool, or effeminate men, so why not?

  • avatar

    U.S.: Project Lead The Way is trying to get women entering into engineering to be > 42%.

  • avatar

    I am reminded of my sister-in-law who was offered a four-year full-ride scholarship in physics, but instead left college, got married, and became a homemaker. Did you ever try to shove a woman into some place where she didn’t want to go?

  • avatar

    Maybe Johanna and Suzanne had something to do with the ‘increase the chicks’ meme?

  • avatar

    An interesting fact, the BMW Z3, often chided as looking as if designed for gay hairdressers was styled by a man, while the much more masculine Z4 was styled by a woman.  Go figure!

  • avatar

    8.7 > 15 percent. Haha.

    I’m guessing that the high performance/high maintenance brand of BMWs is less appealing to women drivers who understandably have a very low tolerance for being dumped at roadside and left to the kindness of strangers, especially with children in the car.  I’m reminded of the diversity seminar trainer who asked the boys and girls in attendance to list what they’d done in the last 24 hours to avoid being sexually assaulted. To a guy, a cranky car is an inconvenience, but to women it can be downright dangerous.

    OTOH I see a lot of BMWs with women at the wheel here in Central CT. Can’t say who owns them. Also, I’d say most of the BMW SUVs I see seem to be driven by women, though this may be skewed by the season.

    Fact remains that women have at least veto power over almost all car purchases. 

  • avatar

    Does this mean that the headlights are about to get considerably bigger?

  • avatar
    Amendment X

    Feminization/Socialism at it’s finest!
    If [insert minority group here] wants to get to the top, tell him/her/it to work harder and earn it, rather than relying on artificial quotas.

    • 0 avatar

      Not always about “quotas” or working hard – there is such a thing as bias or being excluded from the “boys club.”

      For example, there have been cases where women physicians w/ higher educational/professional qualifications get offered less pay than their male counterparts b/c the males are the ones being seen as the “primary wage earner”/supporter of the family while the female physicians are seen as not needing as much $$ b/c of their husbands.

      And w/o the quotas which artifically limit the no. of Asian-Americans at Ivy League and other top universities, the % of white male students would be a bit lower.

    • 0 avatar

      bd: you don’t understand.  It’s *impossible* that we white males could be doing so well because of unfair preferences shown in our favor.  Of course if a white male is at the top, it’s because he’s worked hard and earned it; he couldn’t possibly have any *artificial* advantages.

  • avatar

    A single woman with 3 kids in Germany gets more in welfare money than a BMW Executive earns…After tax. A woman could not afford the pay cut of being a working Executive.

  • avatar

    some of the inherent issues a female has, can be clouded by emotional issues, whereas a guy one could tell him to F off and he had forgotten  about the issues few hrs later.
    afterall  BMW is trying to make more $$ for her shareholders not try to be a political correct co.

  • avatar

    Sounds like a lot of commenters here would fit right in at BMW.  Stay classy, boys.

  • avatar

    Well BMW is in business to turn a profit.  If hiring/promoting more females into key positions could somehow translate into more female customers, then it seems like a sound business decision.  It would be nice if BMW treats and evaluates these women under the same standards as men – not more leniently or harshly.  But because I don’t own a BMW or live in Germany, I’m just pontificating.

    • 0 avatar

      We can’t actually know one way or another without knowing specifics, BUT: if only 8.7% of a company’s ‘leading positions’ are filled by women, it’s a pretty good bet that they’ve been biased against women in terms of hiring and promotions.
      Again, you can’t know without specific evidence that BMW as an employer has been treating women unfairly.  But that’s the side the smart money would be on.

  • avatar
    slow kills

    If I am to believe Wikipedia, Susan Klatten (nee Quandt) owns 1/8 of BMW and is the richest women in Germany.  And she apparently was blackmailed for ‘intimate’ films she was in.  Oops.

  • avatar


    The new Z4 was designed by 2 women, and is a MUCH nicer car than the earlier Z4 designed by men. Let me guess: you are divorced, right? RIGHT?

  • avatar

    One of my cousins works for Toyota in Torrance. She’s a VP. When she goes to Japan, she gets treated like absolute shit, despite being a VP here. Since she’s white (one strike), female (2 strikes), she makes no headway with the bozos in Tokyo. Nevermind that her Japanese is flawless, they pretend they can’t understand her.

    This is not a problem limited to BMW…

  • avatar

    BMW wants more women in leadership positions in Germany eh? Could be a chicken vs egg issue. Smells a little like there’s some pandering to public perception going on. Can companies change society? Should they?

  • avatar

    Let’s see the Bangles is an all girl band, and Chris Bangle is the designer of the Bangle Butt cars and well….. not sure what this all means…

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