The automotive industry is still very much male dominated. While women are finding inroads that don’t require they be pinup models, it’s still quite daunting to walk into an enormous conference center where women feel like an after thought. This is where I really have to hand it to the people behind the #SheIsSEMA Campaign because I was simply not expecting the awesome job they did of bringing us ladies to the forefront.
5. No Lines for Restrooms
The top 5 reason women attend SEMA: there is no line for the restroom…if you’re a woman. The line for the men’s room can be literally out the door but the women walk in and walk out like they’ve never encountered a line in their life. It’s epic. Yes, I’m joking, because this is the worst reason to attend an event ever. It’s also completely amazing when you are, like me, six months pregnant. So with the joke out of the way, let’s move on.
4. Convention Center Food is Good
Okay, okay, this is kind of like number 5, as in: not a super legit reason to attend a conference. And yet, I would argue that pregnant or not, when you are at a conference one of the things you dread is the terrible lunch options available to you. The Las Vegas Conference Center has a great selection of food including a Farm-To-Table option with organic meats. Are there better reasons for women to attend SEMA, you bet, but this reason deserves it’s moment of fame.
3. Women Presenters and Panelists
I expected everything at SEMA to be all men all the time, with an occasional large breasted woman in skin-tight clothing bending over a product display. And yes, there were those women *shrugs* but there were also absolutely brilliant and inspiring women presenters and panelists. The people of #SheIsSEMA brought in women like Patti Wood, Jessica Pettitt, and Jessi Combs. These women are inspiring, excellent speakers, and none of them tap danced around the fact that women at SEMA are not yet the norm.
2. Women Only Education
Not only did #SheIsSEMA bring in women presenters and panelists, they also had educational sessions specifically for women. This isn’t to say men didn’t attend these sessions, or that more men should have attended them, but just a shout out to the organizers for recognizing the need to address the issues directly and create the space for women to network and talk comfortably.
1. Change the Norm with your Presence
The number one reason women attend SEMA is because nothing will change in a male-dominated industry if the women are not present. If women do not exist at SEMA, if women are not presenters, panelists, exhibitors, and buyers this will remain a male-dominated industry. As a woman, your presence validates the need for a #SheIsSEMA Campaign in the first place. As a woman, your presence ensures that women exist in the auto industry as more than hood ornaments. As a woman, your presence confirms for other women that they are not alone in the industry nor at the conference.
The Bottom Line: Value
The bottom line is our tickets were $40 each and I walked out of there with:
- two free books (valued at $15.99 and $27.00 = $42.99) which alone covered my ticket
- a weeks worth of fantastic course material to improve our business
- a weeks worth of gender based research to improve my presence in our business
Even if I hadn’t made any industry connections, which I did, the week would have been worth it for the educational courses alone. If you have the opportunity to attend SEMA, do it. If you’re a woman, do it and be sure you attend any and all the women only courses and networking events you can. It is well worth your time.
More info on Women and SEMA
For more information on SEMA and specifically on the SEMA Businesswomen’s Network, please visit their website here. There’s also a short but sweet YouTube video available here.
Questions, Comments, Concerns
We’d love to hear from you. Have you been to SEMA? What are your thoughts?