The car industry is changing in ways that appeal to a broader workforce. The story of Dr. Astrid Fontaine, a board member at Bentley, shows how post-COVID-19 workplaces can bring some positive changes to the industry hiring practices.

Author Iva Danilovic | Copperberg

Photo: Bentley Media

The implementation of new technologies in modern workplaces enables more flexibility for many women and helps them to find their place even in male-dominated fields such as the car industry. 

Women still do more household labor and family care than men, but digitalization helps them to overcome some major obstacles and join the current workforce. Digitalization helps women to bypass some of the fundamental barriers in the workplace. The opportunities for working remotely and collaborating on digital platforms brings more opportunities for women to establish a work-life balance.

First and foremost, the concept of work-life balance for women often means juggling between job and home chores, taking care of children and family members who need help. This is a demanding 24/7 active lifestyle. The process of keeping the balance between work and family was an exhausting challenge.

Earlier this year Copperberg ran a series of articles under the name The Voice of Women in Service”. We asked many professionals to identify the most common problems that stop women from entering the manufacturing industry and running a successful career. Throughout history, women were mostly discouraged to enter the industry, which has been a hugely underrated potential, and it still is.

The story of Dr. Astrid Fontaine, a member of the Board at Bentley, the Volkswagen-owned British luxury carmaker, brings a unique perspective. She was one in three girls out of more than a hundred students studying mechanical engineering. Now she is one of the 100 most influential women in the engineering sector.

She told to BBC that the changing work environment brought by the effects of COVID 19 could bring more women to the talent pool. Her opinion is that the opportunity to work remotely and to be able to collaborate on digital platforms could remove barriers for women in the car industry:

“It removes any kind of barriers regarding where you are located; it removes the barriers created when, for example, you have to look after children or your family (…) You can be working from home, while doing that as well – so your multitasking opportunities and flexibility increase tenfold. And I think that’s why the environment will be so much more diverse!”

According to Dr. Fontaine, the industry as a whole has already been changing in ways that will appeal to a broader workforce:

“In the past, it was driven very much by mechanical engineering and design… now the industry is fully into the topic of electrification and digitalization. So, you need system developers, skills in social media… and in this world of new skills we are looking for, we find a much broader pool of female candidates”.

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