Monday, August 02, 2004

Women Are Tired of Taking the Back Seat to Their Biker Boyfriends and Husbands!

In Chicago Tribune and Journal Sentinel.

[Laurel here ... I'm lovin it!] A couple of snapshots from article but the bottom line is that Harley gets it:

• Female riders represent the fastest-growing segment of the motorcycle industry. Harley is nurturing a women's biker culture that can co-exist with the traditional bad-boy image.

• Only about 10% of Harley-Davidson motorcycle owners are women, yet that's up from 2% in the 1980s. Women riders represent a vast, untapped market for Harley-Davidson and other motorcycle manufacturers, but the companies have to get into the minds of women like Gigi Foster before they can reach into their wallets.

• Many women are tired of taking the back seat to their biker boyfriends and husbands, says Foster, president of Sirens Motorcycle Club for women in New York.

• "I know of one woman who got her own bike because she was tired of riding behind her son," Foster says. "And there are women I know who could ride the pants off many men, and they are grandmothers."

• "Most of the people I see on motorcycles are big, burly men that have a definite 'grrr' look about them. I am a twenty-something female who works in downtown Chicago and likes to eat Sushi ... definitely no 'grrr' factor in this gal.' "

• Many women riders find it empowering to suit up in biker leathers, which are practical riding clothing as well as a fashion statement.

• "It's like an alter ego on weekends when you become the 'wild one,' " Foster says. "You are an accountant five days a week, and then Friday night, you pull on your leather jacket and away you go with people who are just like you."

• Women are moving up fast at Harley, where they represent about 24% of the work force. Also, 20% of the company's vice presidents and 29% of its corporate officers are women. Among the Fortune 500, women average 15.7% of corporate officers, according to Catalyst, a New York-based organization devoted to the advancement of women in business.

• Numbers like that (above) earned Harley-Davidson an award this year from Catalyst, making the manufacturer one of three companies to be recognized for their success in advancing women. "And one thing fairly unique at Harley-Davidson is there are women in senior management roles who started out in non-management positions," says Paula Gerkovich, a senior director with Catalyst.

• "In order to create products for a diverse audience, Harley-Davidson found that it must access diverse groups of thinkers -- including women, people of color, riders and non-riders," Catalyst wrote.

• "Now women are a natural part of the order of things here," says Lawler, Harley's vice president of communications. "Change started in about the 1980s when management realized it needed everyone to put their best ideas forward to help save the company."

• [Relative to women and Harleys ...] "They want to ride the real, authentic thing. That's what the rush is all about."

To read the entire article, visit:
Harley Adds Women To Its Rolls of Buyers, Managers

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