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International Women’s Day, Women's History, and The Ford Mustang

Admired Around the Globe
Admired Around the Globe
Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Equality for women is progress for all”. That is the theme of International Women’s Day 2014 (March 8), and an apt one. After writing a recent brief column on masculine and feminine leadership communication, I received the “Ford 2014 Trend” report from a Ford-affiliated (yes, the motor company) reader. While there is a lot of interesting information about the Ford Mustang’s 50th birthday, there are also some amazing statistics about women in the world of the automobile. I was given permission to share some of this fascinating information, and I am grateful for that.

The Ford Report reminds us that the glass ceiling above women is not yet gone, but the “spotlight is shining on it.” It is true that, around the world, cultures are breaking down rigid gender constructs that hinder economic development. The report further reminds us that half of the world population is underutilized in the workforce, and that the impact to commerce is significant and affects the happiness of both men and women.

The rise of women in various areas of education, government, and commerce is largely related to improvements in women’s education and demographic shifts that are changing household dynamics and definitions of family across the globe. Some of these shifts include women avoiding marriage and parenting while some men step up to engage in traditionally feminine roles.

The Ford Report provides some startling statistics, as well. The report suggests that “66% of men and women globally agree that the world

would be a better place if men thought more like women.” This statistic should not be, but it is rather startling when we think about how many of the world’s government and economic institutions are and have been male-dominated for decades and some for centuries. Women also comprise 9.7% of the world’s billionaires and make up 12% of Forbes’ 2013 list of the “World’s Most Powerful People.” Unfortunately, as the report points out, women in the United States still are paid just three-quarters of what their male counterparts are paid. There should be more billionaires and a higher percent of women on the Forbes list. Women certainly EARN more than they are paid!

I have to wonder if the banking world will read the information in the Ford Report and learn that “Studies show the overall output of development is greater when loans are given to women instead of men....because women are more likely to use their earnings to improve their living situations and educate their children.” These uses of funding seem to have a lot more merit than the use of funds to glorify an individual.

The Ford Mustang is fifty (50) in 2014. I recall when the father of one of my best friends bought one of the first models in 1964 and let us drive around in it. It was like nothing we had ever ridden in (or even SAT in) before. Since that time, Ford tells us, there have been more than nine (9) million of these iconic cars sold and production has been continuous for all of those years. The car is still very popular today.

But, why bring the Mustang into the mix? A lot of people see the Mustang as “muscle car,” or a car build by and for men. But, the Mustang represents more than that and representation is important. Many of us recall a situation that, the Ford Report notes, “On Oct. 26th, 2013, dozens of Saudi women got behind the wheels of their cars as part of a protest against a ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia.” Those cars may or may not have been Mustangs, but that symbolic gesture spoke to the world about equality and rights for women to own and drive cars and represented a shift in thinking.

March is Women’s History Month 2014 and it may be surprising to some that the history of the Mustang owes a debt of gratitude to women. A number of the key players who brought the Mustang to life over those five (5) decades were women. Since its inception in 1964, women have been major players in the Mustang story.

In today’s world, women played key roles in the development of the all-new 2015 Mustang, ranging from selecting the palette of the new model’s colors and materials to engineering the customer driving experience. Women also continue to play a major role today in maintaining the Mustang’s legacy as a household name. In fact, women have been an influential part of the Mustang story across many facets of its history. From design, engineering, to brand and marketing, women continue to play important roles in shaping the Mustang of today and of the future. Perhaps we should look at the Mustang and how women have shaped the history, the current models, and the new 2015 model and think in terms of Women’s “Future” Month while thankingthem for their current and historic contributions to an American icon that is admired around the globe.

Trends on Twitter via #FordTrend

The Ford 2014 Trend Report was put together by Ford Motor Company in conjunction with BAV Consulting, and designed by Everything Type Company (ETC).