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Inagurual "What Drives Her" Luncheon and Panel Celebrates Women in the Automotive Industry


Contact: Mark Bilek
Senior Director of Communications and Technology
Chicago Automobile Trade Association
Office: (630) 424-6082
Cell: (847) 652-0632

Contact: Jennifer Morand
Director of Public Relations and Social Media
Chicago Automobile Trade Association
Office: (630) 424-6084
Cell: (630) 391-1986



CHICAGO (Feb. 13, 2017) - The 2017 Chicago Auto Show kicked off its Media Preview with the inaugural "What Drives Her" luncheon and panel, a celebration of the integral role women play in the automotive industry as contributors, consumers and drivers of purchasing decisions.

The Chicago Auto Show, in partnership with She Buys Cars and Women in Automotive Conference, brought together 100 women for a robust discussion around the evolving automotive landscape and the powerful ways women are influencing the marketplace, both internally and externally.

The esteemed panel was led by Bridget Brennan, author of Why She Buys and CEO of marketing consultancy Female Factor, and included Kathy Gilbert, director of sales and business development at CDK Global; Candice Crane, vice president of dealer solutions for Hireology; and Jody Hall, vice president, automotive market for Steel Market Development.

The panelists detailed how women are an increasingly critical demographic for the automotive industry, and the economy as a whole, as they control 51 percent of the nation's wealth and often make purchasing decisions on behalf of their families. When automakers work to understand female motivations and behaviors and strategically engage these powerful consumers, they are more likely to be rewarded with brand and product loyalty.

"Women are the engine of consumerism," said moderator Bridget Brennan. "They control 70 to 80 percent of consumer household spending and represent a larger growth market than India and China combined."

Additionally, the panelists presented a myriad of reasons why it benefits automakers to ensure women hold executive leadership roles within their organizations, including that women understand the needs and values of other women and, in turn, can design and lead more effective sales and marketing campaigns.

Chicago Auto Show organizers felt this year was the right time to honor and celebrate the show's female audience by bringing together powerful women in the automotive industry.

"There's been a remarkable uptick in female attendance year over year," said Kelly Webb Roberts, director of the Chicago Automobile Trade Association, who opened up the discussion. "The gender gap has closed. Fifty percent of Chicago Auto Show attendees are women, and we couldn't be prouder. It really is the premier venue to engage this incredibly important cohort."

To watch complete coverage of the 2017 Chicago Auto Show Media Preview press conferences, please visit For more information about the 2017 Chicago Auto Show, please visit


About the Chicago Auto Show
The Chicago Auto Show is the largest auto show in North America, spanning more than 1 million square feet of production, concept, and exotic vehicle exhibit space. In addition to hosting multiple world and North American vehicle debuts, the Chicago Auto Show's First Look for Charity raises more than $2.5 million annually for 18 vital Chicago organizations in a single night. The 2017 public show will be Feb. 11-20. For more information, visit or

About the Chicago Automobile Trade Association
Founded in 1904, the Chicago Automobile Trade Association is one of the nation's largest metropolitan dealer organizations. It is comprised of more than 420 franchised new-car dealers and an additional 150 allied members. The group's dealer members employ about 20,000 people in the metropolitan area. The association has produced the world-famous Chicago Auto Show since 1935. For more information please visit

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