Do You Have to Be a Car Expert to Make Smart Car Choices? Talking about Women and Cars with Consumer Reports

Women In Automotive

But of course, you have to be a tailor to buy socks, right?

A Girls Guide to Cars was founded on the premise that women need information about cars. And not the same information that men drool over!

Women, collectively, influence about 85% of all car purchasing decisions — which is huge! That’s a solid near-majority. But when you browse through automotive publications, you’ll likely find that they’re directed to a male consumer, one who already knows plenty about cars. There’s a huge gap in the automotive world that’s just not being filled by the more traditional enthusiast magazines.

And that’s something that Consumer Reports, one of the world’s most trusted names for product testing and investigative journalism, saw in A Girls Guide to Cars. And on a recent episode of the Talking Cars podcast, I sat down to talk with the Consumer Reports crew about what it’s like to be a woman in the automotive industry.

Related: Creating a Place at the Table: Introducing the Women of Color Automotive Network

Why Isn’t More Automotive Media Created for Women?

In the podcast episode we talked about the assumption that car buyers are all enthusiasts, and it is becoming a more divisive position by the day. As cars have grown more technically advanced and specialized, interest in cars has waned a bit. So, while driving is still as important as ever, many new drivers don’t have any interest in learning how to tinker with their own cars (men included).

Those drivers identify in many different ways, but we want to reach out to them. In talking to my woman friends about buying cars, many of them have waved off things like torque numbers, saying, “It doesn’t matter to me.” And they aren’t lying: those numbers usually don’t mean much to them — but they should! In this example, torque is the thing that gives your SUV its capacity to tow a 10,000 pound trailer or that helps you mount that imposing mountain road. Many modern consumers skim over these numbers because no one takes the time to break down what they mean and how they impact your drive. Which gives A Girls Guide to Cars a mission: To empower you with knowledge.

Related: What Drives Her: Bogi Lateiner Is Empowering Women to Take Control of Their Auto Repair Experience

And Sadly, There’s Still Bias in the Workplace

Of course, the women who work in automotive also face a lot of bias. As we discuss on the podcast, I’ve experienced harassment on the job countless times, whether that be something as overt as a male journalist asking me to sit on his lap or something as insidious as requiring years to build a reputation as a journalist in a world where my male colleagues are often immediately taken seriously.

The other women on the podcast, Emily Thomas and Jennifer Stockburger, shared their own experiences of bias in engineering fields, where they’re asked to do menial tasks or are passed over when looking for advice.

And those are only a few examples. Women often face these criticisms as mechanics, race car drivers, product testers, designers, engineers, automotive CEOs, and yes, as consumers.

Related: Hello, Car-Ed: Make Car Shopping Easy and Find the Perfect Fit

But, There’s Hope!

Of course, one look at the automotive world today when compared to 20 years ago presents a stark contrast: women have a much more visible presence now than they did before, and they’re being respected in a growing number of different positions. It isn’t easy, but it’s valuable work to be able to bring cars to female buyers that just make sense.

I'm Elizabeth Blackstock, managing editor of AGGTC, blogger, journalist, novelist, editor, MA/MFA graduate student, wife, motorsport fanatic, and bearer... More about Elizabeth Blackstock