GENEVA, March 8 — It’s the first major European auto gathering of the year and the Geneva motor show is a sea of hotly anticipated new cars.
But while the number of auto models is on the rise, another type is in decline.
Just a few years ago there were so-called “booth babes” on nearly every stand.
Usually scantily dressed — they were a symbol of an industry that used attractive women to sell cars.
But the Motor Show appears to be taking heed of the global #MeToo movement, with the majority of carmakers now opting for “product experts” instead — both male and female.
“Rest assured that we never tackled this issue in the way of that we are interested in optics or sex only, never ever. I am interested in competence and we have here on the ground perfectly trained staff who are able to talk to our very discerning customers on an eye-to-eye level,” CEO of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Torsten Muller-Otvos said.
“I have to say that on our stand the jewels are the cars,” Lamborghini CEO Stefano Domenicali said.
Some think the industry hasn’t gone far enough.
Formula One recently decided to drop its “grid girls” completely.
But the car industry is clearly having to look in the mirror — with bosses admitting the percentage of women in executive positions needs to increase.
“We’re a very old industry, we have been operating for over 100 years. And we know change is happening and therefore gender equality is very important,” Nissan Europe chairman Paul Willcox said.
But it’s not just the show room floor where women are under-represented — as a look in the media centre illustrates.
Most of the hundreds of auto journalists covering the event are also male. — Reuters