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Meet 3 women primed to lead GM's new auto tech wave

The engineers honing the auto giant's new propulsion, information and vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology

Girls now match boys in mathematical achievement: in the U.S. alone, 140 women are enrolled in higher education for every 100 men.

Women earn more than 50 percent of all bachelor's and master's degrees and nearly 50 percent of all doctorates. Women's participation in business and MBA programs has grown more than fivefold since the 1970s, and the increase in the number of engineering degrees granted to women has grown almost tenfold.

So, is it any wonder that female engineers are leading the way in some technological advances in the auto industry that look likely to change the market more in the next decade than has been seen in the past 50 years?

Electrified vehicles, infotainment software and vehicle-to-vehicle communication are critical to changing the way we drive. At General Motors, three women are helping to drive this change.

Trista Schieffer General Motors
Trista Schieffer, lead development engineer for battery electric vehicles, is collaborating with other engineers to ensure certain parts and systems are integrated properly to meet customer expectations for an electric vehicle.

While gasoline-powered cars remain GM's top sellers by far, the company has committed to manufacturing 500,000 vehicles per year equipped with some from of electrification by 2017 — an objective that highlights broader opportunities to decrease car emissions and move the needle on building out global EV infrastructure.

Aside from auto powertrains, another key part of the connected car is an "infotainment" (that's information and entertainment) system that allows occupants to do practically anything on wheels they can do on solid ground.

Rebecca Roth, infotainment product owner, helps develop software to safely integrate drivers’ social lives into their rides.

Roth’s part of this work includes helping develop software for the smart grid — an intelligent system that allows two-way communication between the electric company and the homeowner or their EVs, picking charging times when electricity use is lower and costs less. 

This type of communication technology also allows the homeowner to set their EV to charge either as soon as they plug it in or when it’s the greenest.

Perhaps it's Jessica Moreno, GM's program manager of vehicle-to-vehicle security credential management, whose work on the company's futuristic cars is the most sci-fi-tinged.

Jessica Moreno General Motors
The hope for automakers is that in the not-too-distant future, fully or partially autonomous vehicles will be able to talk to each other to help avoid crashes and traffic jams (although myriad technical, legal and regulatory hurdles remain).

Moreno is helping to shape the technology that cars will use talk to each other when avoiding finicky situations on the road, ultimately (it is hoped) making cars and roads safer and more efficient.

The 2017 Cadillac CTS is expected to be the first vehicle in the U.S. to implement vehicle-to-vehicle technology, or V2V for short.

These women are inspiring the next leaders in technology, underscoring the competitive advantages of a diverse workforce. The business case is compelling: Women are primed to lead in this new era of innovation.

This article originally appeared at JustMeans.

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