Gender Spotlight: Automobile Industry
Gender Spotlight #2: Meet Sonsoles Perez Laporta who works in Corporate Communications at Audi. She is going to be giving us insights into how gender effects the automobile industry.
Sonsoles was born in Madrid, Spain and moved to Germany in 2014, when she started working for Audi Planung Gmbh. She works in Corporate Communications and has been on the works council since 2018. In 2021 she became President of the works council and the Diversity Management officer at the APG (Audi Planung GmbH).
We asked her some questions about what role gender plays in the car industry, here's what she said.
Sonsoles, what role do you think Gender plays in the car industry?
One would never think that women have been involved in core inventions that have to do with vehicles, where personalities like Bertha Benz or Mary Anderson have made history. That is because car industry nowadays is quite masculine, and its gender diversity starts to show at the base of the pyramid but not yet or very slowly in upper layers. Thanks to women quotas and the evolution of society itself, changes like gender-sensitive language and the importance of Diversity & Inclusion in big companies have a certain visibility. Gender diversity through all company layers will offer more creative input and fully effective work results, since we will not be just counting on one part of the society.
Did you think the automobile field would be different in terms of gender equity before you started?
I have been working here for almost 8 years and I was completely unaware of the huge wave of positive changes that awaited us.
Have you seen any progress or otherwise in this industry in terms of gender equity and diversity?
Definitely, as at Audi we have two women among the members of the board, to start with. Also, the company is rolling out a concept of Diversity & Inclusion for all Audi subsidiaries to take effect across the company. The companies that choose not to respond to this current needs will be left behind, because society is evolving and so are their employees and potential applicants. We care.
Do you have any specific examples of gender discrimination that you've experienced or heard about?
Sadly yes, and it happens often in the case of women when their gender expression is quite feminine or they are young or good looking. I have heard of engineers at the factory mansplained by factory workers about tools and processes that these women have designed themselves and I have heard of managers being considered assistants, being interrupted in meetings and not being taken seriously. Luckily, the more we talk about it, the more obvious it becomes that it is not right anymore.
Do you think there are any specific solutions to improve the issues of gender inequality in the automobile industry?
Maybe not specific for the car industry but for all industries that have been traditionally masculine. I think the key is visibility and managers and men in general support.