Women@SIMI is an event organised by the SIMI (Society of the Irish Motor Industry) for women working in the Irish motor industry. It’s an opportunity to meet other women working in a traditionally male-dominated industry, make new contacts and be inspired by women who have reached the top of their respective fields.

This year the speakers were from the motor industry and further afield, including politics, business and aviation: Rowena Dooley, Dealer Principal at Dooley Motors in Carlow and Hon Treasurer SIMI, Louise Phelan, VP Global Operations at PayPal, Mary O’Rourke, former TD, and Gráinne Cronin, the first female pilot at Aer Lingus.

Women@SIMI is now in its second year. Over 150 women attended the event last Friday in the Westbury Hotel in Dublin from different sectors such as vehicle testing, vehicle body repairers, franchise sales, distributors and media.

Newly appointed President of the SIMI, Mark Boggan, opened the event and acknowledged that the industry has a big challenge to encourage more female employees to seek out more diverse roles in the industry, for example, as technicians, sales executives and dealer principals. He said that those in attendance had an important part to play as role models, leading the way for other women and demonstrating the opportunities available and the success that can be achieved.

Rowena Dooley, Dealer Principal of Dooley Motors, member of the SIMI Management Board and SIMI Treasurer delivered a keynote address, which reinforced Mark Boggan’s call “for more initiatives to be put in place to attract, train and retain women personnel within the Industry”.

Rowena also highlighted the fact that the Industry itself has a duty to better understand the needs of female customers when it comes to their requirements when buying or servicing a car, and to make the process less intimidating.

She said that the Industry should tap into the economic potential of the female market and make greater use of female employees’ skills. Rowena stated that “a shift in the Industry mindset has been happening, but it is up to us all to make sure it continues at speed and that we pave the way for our present and future female colleagues”.

Caroline Kidd