Women at the Wheel

The New York Auto Show Is No Longer a Boy’s Club.

Are men the only ones attracted to cars? Not any longer. Despite all the testosterone flowing at the New York Auto Show, more than a handful of women car enthusiasts and buyers were inspecting the high-end convertibles and luxury SUVs with great care.

Young and old, single and married—and unaccompanied by men—they were all around the white display rooms at the at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center throughout the show, April 3 to 12, knowledgeable and eager to test drive the latest models.

According to Forbes, women’s earning power is steadily increasing in America, providing women with higher purchasing power. Gender equality remains elusive, but some areas—like Washington, D.C Maryland, and Massachusetts do better than others, according to recent studies. Coupled with the growing trend of women drivers in the U.S., as noted by The Boston Globe, women have more money and decision making power to purchase cars than ever before.

Here are few of the women patrons NY City Lens found at this year’s Auto Show, and what they have to say about cars:

Jessica Nordy, 35 and Mindy Rodriguez,34, pose in front of the 2016 Mercedes Benz G-class truck. Rodriguez, first time attendee, came specifically for the 2015 Dodge Vipor. (Ony Nwaohuocha/NYCityLens)

Jessica Nordy, 35 and Mindy Rodriguez,34, in front of the 2016 Mercedes Benz G-class truck. Rodriguez, a first time attendee, came specifically for the 2015 Dodge Viper. (Ony Nwaohuocha/NY City Lens)

Jessica Nordy, 35, a Long Island resident and auto dealer, has attended the auto show alone for the last 14 years. This year she brought a female friend along.

When asked if she’s ever been intimidated at the auto shows because she is a woman, she replies, “No. Never.” Yet Nordy feels that most women are intimidated to attend because of the male-saturated environment: “I would like to see women feel comfortable coming without a man.”

“At the end of the day most of the purchases are coming from the woman, based off of the wife, not the man,”  Nordy says. “I’ve been in the car business for 14 years so I come every year to see the competitor, to see my brand and everybody else’s.”

Nordy feels that most men are surprised to see women unaccompanied at the show. “People look at me like, ‘What is she doing here?’ But then when they hear me speak about the line or the car, they’re like, ‘Wow she knows what she’s actually talking about.’”

Annie Chang, a 34-year-old Texas-based automotive product specialist agrees.“A lot of people have the misconception that women don’t know a lot about cars,” she says. “The thing is, actually, all of us here are very, very knowledgeable because we are all trained on it. It’s always a pleasant surprise to answer all of their questions.”

Annie Chang, 34, poses in front a 2016 Chevrolet model truck. Chang is an auto show product specialist. (Ony Nwaohuocha/NYCityLens)

Annie Chang, 34, poses in front a 2016 Chevrolet model truck. Chang is an auto show product specialist. (Ony Nwaohuocha/NYCityLens)

“Women are the ones basically signing the check, especially if it is a family. You definitely need everyone’s approval. The woman’s opinion is very strong,” says Chang, “It’s a very exciting time for women and girls.”

In fact, auto dealers are changing the way they do business to suit the growing number of women buyers by catering to what they believe is a woman’s taste. The auto show even partnered with Good Housekeeping to create a photo contest targeting female drivers.

For Bronx resident Kalila Philip, 36, a train operator for the MTA, believes gender roles are shifting.“There’s no more ‘This is what a woman does, this is what a man does.’ Traditional roles are being broken. My profession is proof,” Phillip says.

Kalila Philip, with son at the NY Auto Show. She will purchase her first vehicle. after test driving the models on display.(Ony NWaohuocha/NYCityLens)

Kalila Philip, with her son, at the NY Auto Show. She will purchase her first vehicle. after test driving the models on display. (Ony Nwaohuocha/NY City Lens)

For Tina Cooper, age is not a factor. As an older woman, “I do most things for myself without a man. I brought my car without a man,” says Cooper,  “I’m not really into cars but I like to have the latest that I can afford.”

Karen Richards, 53, and Tina Cooper, 54, shop together for new 2015 models.  (Ony Nwaohuocha/NYCityLens)

Karen Richards, 53, and Tina Cooper, 54, shop together for new 2015 Lincoln models.
(Ony Nwaohuocha/NY City Lens)

“I’ve heard that women are the number one consumers of vehicles,” says Karen Richards. Richards, a Brooklyn resident, 53, has been to more auto shows than she can count. This is her first time coming with a female companion. “I think they made cars more geared to women drivers. I noticed they put the mirror on the driver seat now. So if you are putting on your lipstick, whatever, you don’t have to switch to the passenger side. They know that we have the money to buy cars and it’s an empowering experience,” says Richards. She first got interested  in cars at a young age watching her brothers play with Matchbox toy cars.

Passing on the love and interest of cars is generational for Patrice Gale,a 39-year-old nurse from Long Island. Gale believes it is important for her to encourage her daughters to think beyond gender stereotypes.

Patrice Gale with niece and daughters, this is their first auto show. ( Ony Nwaohuocha / NYCityLens)

Patrice Gale with her niece and daughters. This is their first auto show. (Ony Nwaohuocha/NY City Lens)

“I like cars. I want them to like what comes natural to them as well,” she says.  “They don’t have to like something because they’re girls. They can keep their mind open.”

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