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Leadfoot Ladies: Lawsuit Questions If Women Can Write About Cars

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In case you haven’t noticed, Silicon Valley’s summer was a bit rough this year. The tech industry is notorious for its issues with gender equality, but this summer everything was thrust into the spotlight when Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick resigned during a sexual harassment scandal and an engineer at Google passed his manifesto against workplace diversity around the company. The auto industry was part of the debate thanks to Uber, but most arguments concerned the tech side of the business. However, thanks to a lawsuit, the controversy has moved to envelop a new part of the auto world – journalism.

Greg Anderson and Scott Ard’s suit was filed last year, but statements by their lawyer, Jim Parsons, have brought it to the public’s attention where it got picked up by The New York Times. In the case, the men claim that they faced gender discrimination when they worked on Yahoo’s media teams with female management and a female CEO, Marissa Mayer. Mr. Parsons says the clear sign of discrimination in the workplace is the simple fact that there was a woman in charge of the automotive section of the site. Because of course, women who write about cars are impossible and unnatural. Besides that, women will only hire and promote other women.

In his own words, Parsons said “No eyebrows are going to rise if a woman heads up fashion. But we’re talking about women staffing positions — things like autos — where it cannot be explained other than manipulation.”

The leader of Yahoo’s auto section referred to by Parsons is Sharon Silke Carty, now of Automotive News. During her career in journalism, she has covered cars for AutoBlog, the Detroit Bureau, the Associated Press, and Yahoo Autos. Most of her career has been dedicated to the automotive industry, but according to Jim Parsons that’s only because she is a woman hired by other women. Covering cars is clearly too complex for the female brain and she has to have taken jobs away from men.

Besides the parties in the lawsuit insulting an entire gender by calling them unsuitable for certain industries, it ignores the multitude of skills needed to be an automotive journalist in the first place. Obviously, journalists in the automotive field have to understand how cars work and what makes one car different from another. They must also be able to comprehend the complex histories and partnerships of each brand. Finally, writers must be able to convey the topic and an analysis of it clearly and correctly.

For the record, The News Wheel is currently a little over half male, with two female managing editors. However, our parent company’s leadership chain (which makes hiring and promoting decisions) is male. Every member of our staff earned their place on the team and is committed to covering and understanding the automotive world. Yes, even the ladies.

News Sources: The New York Times and Jalopnik