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General Motors' first female chief executive shatters glass ceiling

Mary Barra speaks at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier this year. General Motors has picked her to lead the company.

Rebecca Cook/Reuters/Landov

Mary Barra speaks at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier this year. General Motors has picked her to lead the company.

General Motors, the nation's largest automaker, has announced that Mary Barra will replace retiring Daniel Akerson as the company's chief executive. She will be the first woman to lead a major auto company. 

The decision was announced a day after the U.S. Treasury sold its remaining GM shares, ending any government involvement in the company. 

RELATED: From shop to floor: New GM head Mary Barra 

“This is not a breaking of the glass ceiling, it’s a shattering,” Jean Jennings, president and editor-in-chief of Automobile Magazine, told Take Two. “The entire automotive industry is run by men.”

NPR noted 1 in 5 workers in the auto industry is a woman, and a mere 4 percent of CEOs at all major U.S. companies are female. 

Barra has been with GM 30 years, working up the ranks from her very first job at a plant in Pontiac with her late father, according to NPR.

“We have a woman who when she got her big job and they asked her what her goal was she said, ‘No more crappy cars,’” Jennings told Take Two. “Her exact words.”

Since early 2011, Barra has led GM's vehicle-development operations. During that time, NPR reported, GM's Chevrolet Impala became the first U.S. sedan in at least two decades to be chosen by Consumer Reports as the best on the market. Also, Motor Trend picked the Cadillac CTS as car of the year.

Listen to more of Take Two’s interview with Jennings in the audio section to the left. 


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