Mary Barra has been named the new CEO at General Motors, the first time a woman will hold the top job at a major automaker. It also makes her arguably the highest-profile CEO in the world. She takes over Jan. 15 from Dan Akerson. He's been CEO and chairman of the GM board since Sept. 1, 2010. Akerson, 65, said he accelerated the transition by several months, after his wife recently was diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer.
The 51-year-old Barra is executive vice president of GM's global product development, purchasing and supply chain. Akerson oversaw GM's return to the stock exchange as a public company with an initial public offering November 2010, as the big automaker emerged from its Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. He has overseen some of the car company's most profitable quarters.
Women represent a minority presence in the auto industry, comprising 21 percent of the total workforce. According to federal data, thirty nine thousand of the industry's one hundred eighty five thousand two hundred employees were women. And women hold about 3.3 million of 12 million jobs in the broader manufacturing sector, or about 27 percent.
In a related story, U.S. taxpayers no longer own any of General Motors. The Treasury sold the last of its remaining 31.1 million GM shares Monday. It started with 500 million shares in 2010. The taxpayer loss on the GM bailout is $10.5 billion. The Treasury department said it recovered $39 billion from selling its GM stake, and had put $49.5 billion of taxpayer money directly into the GM bailout.