• Aug 9th 2007 at 8:22AM
  • 66
During the development of General Motors' new GMT900 SUVs, the team in charge of design was taken out to the company's Milford Proving Grounds and made to dress in drag as an exercise. They wore high-heels, fake press-on nails and garbage bag skirts to simulate what The Car Connection refers to as "female handicaps" (are we really calling them that?) while operating various features of their new 'utes. The result was at least three features on GM's new SUVs that wouldn't have been there otherwise: retractable running boards for easier entry/exit in a skirt, a larger center console that can hold a purse and an easier to operate rear lift gate.
The idea for this excursion into androgyny came from Mary Sipes, a vehicle line director at GM and a woman with a mission to make her company's vehicles more user friendly for females. Since women comprise more than 50-percent of the buying public, she realized it would only help the company's bottom line to consider them more when designing new vehicles. Since the design teams are still very male dominated, Sipes decided to dress her teams in drag to force them to consider their vehicles from a female perspective. Hmmm... perhaps a better solution than playing dress up would be to just hire more women. Regardless, the intent was commendable, but we're wondering if our female readers can think of any other missing features that might make their lives a little easier.

[Source: The Car Connection]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      GM gives a whole new meaning to drag racing.

      What would I like to see in future GM cars?
      How about an oil slick dispenser that can be aimed at truckers peering down from their cabs. LOL
      • 8 Years Ago
      Forget the sexist, gender crap! As a mother of 5 and grandmother of 15 grandchildren I think it is only logical to think about how females use their vehicles. How about getting built-in child safety seats in all rear seats! And built-in fold out trays for their breakfasts on the go? Car doors that open without using your hand is a great invention when your hands are tied up with gear and kids! I could even use a cane holder so it doesn't keep rolling around under your feet! Let's think about how people REALLY live in their vehicles!
      • 8 Years Ago
      Are you saying should GM have fired some male engineers so they could hire their female counterparts? Sounds like a sex descrimination lawsuit waiting happen...
      Greg A.
      • 8 Years Ago
      "Women do comprise more than fifty percent of the U.S. population, but only barely."

      Whoops, technically, I should have written that FEMALES comprise more than fifty percent of the U.S. population, but only barely.
      • 8 Years Ago
      What next, getting their GMAC trucks to be more women friendly too? Why stop at women, make them more dwarf friendly too. How about more NBA player friendly? Hey, what about the Sumo wrestlers, or even WWE wrestlers. These cars just don't fit EVERYONE, oh wait, maybe a car isn't suppose to fit EVERYONE...

      Gay Motor Ass Crunchers
        • 8 Years Ago
        icu812ru469 said "What next, getting their GMAC trucks to be more women friendly too? Why stop at women, make them more dwarf friendly too. How about more NBA player friendly?"

        Hey icu- here's a concept: GM is in the business of SELLING VEHICLES AND MAKING MONEY. More care sales = more $ for GM. Since women make up OVER 50% OF THE BUYING PUBLIC (especially for GM's GMT900 SUVs, which are now driven almost exclusively by ignorant, fat soccer moms) it makes sense that they want these vehicles to appeal men and women both.

        Newsflash: NBA players, midgets, Sumo wrestlers, WWE wrestlers don't make up anywhere near 50% of GM's buyers, hence they are not trying to make their product appeal specifically to those groups. Women do make up 50+% of GM's buyers, so that's why they are targeting women with these changes.

        Wow, the stupidity of some commenters never ceases to amaze.
      • 8 Years Ago
      If this were better publicized, it'd drive (no pun intended) male buyers even further away than a minivan.
      • 8 Years Ago
      yes the men need to know what women feel when they get into a vehicle. no, women were not needed for the test. The only way to make it a better test would be to have half/half female and male engineers, but then the men would still never understand what women are having problems with. This being said, the women could be the men in the exercise, and try to be minimalistic because most men who buy GM don't care about anything else but but getting from point A to point B. Anyway, most of these options for women are really unnecessary and make a rolling pile of crap even more overpriced.
        • 8 Years Ago
        "Very appropriate; real women dress in jeans 99.9 percent of the time(drag);"

        Actually, I never wear jeans--don't even own a pair--and consider myself to be 100% "real" woman!!
        • 8 Years Ago
        'Anyway, most of these options for women are really unnecessary and make a rolling pile of crap even more overpriced."

        I couldn't have found a more perfect example of why this was a fantastic idea by GM.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Mr. Neff, what's with the "just hire more women" comment? C'mon, that wasn't really necessary, that was just snarky affirmative-action talking, right?

      Anyway, I don't think they could have gotten the same feedback if they HAD used real women. Dressing in drag was a great way for them to focus on their target market (soccer moms - ba-zing!).

      Enlightenment through humor and comedy is awesome.
      • 8 Years Ago
      It is good that the needs of all consumers are taken into consideration. If the engineers who did this; did so on a voluntary basis; cool. If they are "forced" into gender role play I would expect that any women who may join their team are required to stuff sausages into their panties to make it all fair
      • 8 Years Ago
      I think it's a good idea to have the design engineers of any gender put themselves in the place of the consumer. The article said it was a female designer (and director) who came up with the idea. I hope they had some short design engineers on those teams. I have yet to sit in an SUV and be able to see around those huge side view mirrors that are at my eye level. Makes a heck of a blind spot when you're petite.
      • 8 Years Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      While this definitely sounds pretty comical, I give GM a lot of credit for doing it. I'm sure the manufacturers do a lot of focus group stuff. They have to. As a recent example, Toyota had incorporated a lot of focus group stuff when designing the Tundra, concentrating on construction workers, ranchers and other real truck people who actually use their trucks to come up with stuff that worked for them, like door handles and heater controls that they could use with gloves on. It's little things like that might get overlooked during an initial sale, but can make a big difference in user satisfaction.

      While getting real women would be a good approach, I think the drag approach is actually really useful - it gets people who normally think and do things their way to think a different way, and it makes them better engineers. I work as a software developer, and I really wish I could convince other developers that we need to do more of this "informatics"/user experience stuff. It's too easy to lose sight of how other people use things when you have become comfortable with it, and the software industry is particularly bad.
        • 8 Years Ago
        as a human factors professional, it warms my heart reading your comment. - alex
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