Breaking News: Mary Barra In As GM CEO, First Woman To Run Major Car Company

General Motors (GM) is changing that with the appointment of Mary Barra as its next chief executive. A longtime GM employee, Barra will become the company's first female CEO -- as well as the first woman to head one of Detroit’s top automakers -- when current CEO Dan Akerson steps down next month. 

>Women take the lead: America's most powerful female CEOs
> Women take the lead: America's most powerful female CEOs 10 photos
Barra is currently executive vice president of global product development, purchasing and supply chain. In that role, she is in charge of overseeing the suppliers and subsidiaries that deliver the parts needed to make GM vehicles.

"The selection of Mary Barra is rooted in a quality executive, groomed for the position and with a deep understanding of GM’s past and future culture — her selection appears first to be the right candidate and second to earn bragging rights as the first woman to run a car company," said analysts with IHS Global Insight in a research brief.