The 2020 Canadian International AutoShow is fast approaching (February 14-23), and the lineup of exhibits and attractions this year is second to none.

One of the new features at the 2020 AutoShow is “WomenDriven,” a one-night networking event aimed at creating greater awareness among women about the diverse careers available in the automotive industry.

WomenDriven is the brainchild of four women who have carved out successful careers for themselves in the automotive industry. One of the visionaries for this event is Susan Gubasta, president of the 2020 AutoShow, former president of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association (TADA) and president of Mississauga Toyota.

Gubasta served as the TADA’s first-ever female president, in 2018-19. During her 26-year career in the automobile industry, Gubasta has seen a steady increase in the number of women entering the profession, but it is still a fraction of what it could be.

Gubasta has observed that, over the years, many automotive players have tried to educate women about the career potential in the industry, but their efforts were individual, not as a group.

The aim of WomenDriven is to bring major automotive players together to form a unified voice in educating women about the diversity of careers available in the retail, manufacturing and aftermarket segments of the industry.

Automotive players include media outlets, new-car dealerships and dealer groups, automobile manufacturers, post-secondary schools that offer automotive courses and aftermarket suppliers.

WomenDriven is the first-ever Canadian automotive event with a female focus. Automotive professionals will come together for a night of fun and conversation with the goal of attracting more women into the industry.

At the dealership level, women work as finance managers, marketing experts, accountants, dealer principals, service advisers, human resources, parts advisers, sales consultants, controllers and technicians.

Part of the event will include an opportunity for the four founders of WomenDriven to discuss their automotive career journeys, with the hope that their stories resonate with audiences. Their talks will include the opportunity to ask them questions, as well.

The goal of the TADA-supported initiative is to host additional WomenDriven events throughout the year.

As president of the 2020 Canadian International AutoShow, Canada’s largest consumer show in size and attendance, Gubasta thinks the timing is ideal to introduce such an event. More than 350,000 visitors from across Ontario are expected to attend this year’s show.

Throughout her presidency of the TADA (2018-19), Gubasta has been a strong advocate for women into the auto industry. She has spoken at post-secondary schools, conferences and industry events. She has also served as chair of the TADA’s education committee.

Gubasta participates in the TADA’s Women in Automotive mentoring program, which is designed to connect post-secondary students with auto-industry leaders who offer support and advice while encouraging young women to consider careers in automotive retailing.

WomenDriven is currently only open to automotive professionals. In order to attend, all industry professionals are required to bring a nonindustry student/professional with them to experience who and what the auto industry is all about.

WomenDriven will take place on Feb. 20. The event runs from 7-10 p.m. in Room 801 in the south building at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Pop-up vendors will display a variety of automotive and nonautomotive merchandise. This event is for people aged 19 and over, and registration is first come, first serve. For more information and to view the criteria, please visit womendriven.ca.

For more information about the 2020 AutoShow, visit autoshow.ca.

Once again, the TADA is proud to support Prostate Cancer Canada. This year, our association has donated two 2020 Toyota Supras – a GR Supra Nocturnal and GR Supra Renaissance (valued at $152,000). The Rock The Raffle draw will take place at the 2020 Canadian International AutoShow. For ticket information, visit www.rocktheroadraffle.ca.

This column represents the views and values of the TADA. Write to president@tada.ca or go to tada.ca. Cliff Lafreniere is president of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association and is president of Pinewood Park Motors (Ford) in Kirkland Lake. For information about automotive trends and careers, visit carsandjobs.com.