While he's in no rush to retire, General Motors Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson dropped a big hint about who might eventually replace him, telling his audience at an automotive conference in Detroit it's "inevitable" that a "car gal" will eventually run one of the Motor City's Big Three automakers.
GM has already come a long way from the days when its management team was dominated by "car guys" in gray flannel suits. It currently has four women on its board of directors, and six women rank among its corporate officers. And there has been buzz that Mary Barra, the maker's senior vice president of global product development, could be on the short list of those with a shot at replacing Akerson, who turns 65 next month.
"You'll have more women in board rooms and more women in senior management 10 years from now, at least I hope so," Akerson said during a speech Wednesday to the 2013 Michigan Automotive Summit.
Women slowly have been gaining a foothold in the auto industry over the past three decades, but for the large part, most have been assigned to traditionally "female" roles in senior management, such as human resources, public relations or environmental affairs. According to Catalyst.org, women held 24 percent of the jobs in the motor vehicles and motor vehicles equipment manufacturing industry in 2012.
Barra, 51, is on a short list of those who have broken through the industry's glass ceiling, overseeing GM's global product development process. Forbes named Barry the 35th most powerful woman in the world in the world this year, up from No. 41 in 2012.
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