Sexual Harassment Plagues the Auto Industry Amid Lack of Female Workers

In an industry where employees are only 24 percent female, sexual harassment is still a big problem. 

Sexual harassment in the workplace report
Philip Toscano—PA Wire/Press Association Images

The auto industry is already short on female executives compared with other fields. Now, new research finds that those who are a part of the sector may not feel as welcome as they might elsewhere as well.

The Project XX Survey, conducted by Automotive News, asked 900 women about sexual harassment in the automotive industry, and the results were surprising.

The report compared the automotive industry results to Stanford University’s Elephant in the Valley survey, which studied sexism in the tech, advertising, and marketing industries in 2016. 

Men used all-too-common categorizations for women who responded to the survey. About 68 percent of women were told they were “too aggressive,” and 50 percent were told they were “too quiet,” according to the report. 

About 50 percent said they received comments on their appearance, were told to dress more feminine and some were even told that they should show off their breasts more.  

Even worse, exceeding all other industries surveyed by Stanford, 65 percent of women said they received an “unwanted advance” by a male coworker. 

Automotive News

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Michele Madansky Consulting and Automotive News Project XX Survey 

About 63 percent of women surveyed said they were excluded from male-oriented company events such as happy hours (which shouldn't feel limited to men), football games and meetings at cigar lounges. 

Women also said that they are asked to do “secretarial tasks” like creating posters, cleaning the office, transcribing meetings and planning events. The men escape these tasks. 

The numbers were published on Sunday after social media flooded with women’s stories of sexual harassment in the workplace amid Hollywood’s Harvey Weinstein scandal.  

One survey participant summed up her sentiments about the results: “The issues facing women working in automotive are far more severe and the sexism far deeper than in other industries," she wrote. "It's a complete shame and an embarrassment."