According to Volvo, women deliver nearly two-thirds of the vehicles brought into auto shops for repair or maintenance.
However, the number of females represents less than 2 percent of auto technicians working in the industry. Jennifer Tio, president of the Car Care Council's Women's Board, says, "I think this is because [car repair] has never been considered a woman's field, but that is changing,"
Historically auto mechanics have been predominantly male because the work was physically taxing, requiring brute strength and involving frequent heavy lifting. It was dirty work. A mechanic could always be identified by the dirt and grease on their uniforms and under their fingernails.
However, times have changed.
Modern cars are more reliable mechanically and use more technology requiring a different approach to service. Today, car issues are more likely to be caused by a defective electronic sensor than the failure of a mechanical part.
Now auto repair values excellent communication and computer skills over brute strength, opening the way for female technicians.
Here are twenty pictures of some of those female mechanics at work.
Since she was twelve years old, Liana Acevedo wanted to be a Supercross racer and mechanic. Nothing will hold her back. “It’s common for people to doubt a 5-foot-tall, young girl like me trying to be a motorcycle mechanic. Sometimes in school, I’m not looked at seriously. To fix this, I just show them I can do everything the men can do and that I want it just as bad.”
Louise Baker is the founder of Womanic, a garage catering to woman which she claims offers “honest advice” and helps women become more car-knowledgeable and avoid getting ripped off. She also wants to inspire girls to pursue the traditionally male-dominated world of vehicle repair. She says women should get their hands dirty and stop being intimidated by “sweaty and smelly” men-only garages.
When a tow truck driver walked into Wooster's Garage and asked for a mechanic, Stephanie Lopez responded, "I'm the mechanic."
No, he wanted to talk to the "real mechanic."
Lopez paused, smiled, and explained that she was the mechanic at Wooster's Garage.
"OK," the tow truck driver said. "Can I talk to the owner, then?"
Lopez smiled and said, "Well... "
The author of “The Garage Girls Guide to Everything You Need to Know About Your Car,” Courtney Hansen is the co-host of the hit car makeover show Overhaulin.’
“I feel like cars have always been in my blood. I think I was born loving cars. As early as I can remember, I loved them…I feel like it’s been a part of my life since the very start.”
Emily Reeves is a self-proclaimed "car-girl" persona, professional fashion model, and actress. She gained fame with her YouTube channel that features videos of Emily and her husband attending drag races and working on their 1978 Datsun 280Z. After three years, 2.5 million views, and hundreds of hours with greasy hands, Emily Reeves 30 is making a move to television.
Automotive technician Faye Hadley is a cast member of the female-oriented television show All Girls Garage. She is the founder and owner of Pistons & PixieDust, (mobile automotive education and repair by women), for women. Faye is also a founder of Woman And Machine, an organization of tradeswomen that conducts daylong, female-centered, automotive workshops across the country.
Nadine Callaghan graduated from Harvard University with a degree in psychology, but she chose to pursue a career in the automobile business. However, not satisfied with the profession she chose as her career, she then moved to Portland to pursue her dreams and eventually got an unpaid internship at a garage.
Tired of the helpless feeling talking to male auto mechanics, Patricia Banks decided to become a mechanic and start an auto clinic for women. She left her six-figure salary as an engineer at DuPont and opened the Girls Auto Clinic repair center in Upper Darby, Pa., and staffed it with female mechanics. To add some appeal and convenience for women, she also opened an adjoining manicure-pedicure salon.
Typical of many mechanics, Jennifer spent her childhood tinkering in the garden with dad, disassembling cars, engines, and toys and reassembling them in working order. She loved figuring out how things work.
However, school was a challenge. “Everyone would laugh at me in class. It was something that they’d never really heard of, a girl wanting to become a mechanic. But I was just me”.
Great Bear Auto Repair is a growing business because Audra Fordin’s customers trust her. Her motto: follow my maintenance recommendations, and you will save $2000 in future repairs. The result is more customers coming in for shorter, less expensive maintenance work and many referrals to Audra because their cars just keep running well.
ASE certified Master Technician, Sarah “Bogi” Lateiner is the owner of 180 Degrees Automotive, a television celebrity, an artist and a poet. A host of Velocity Network’s TV show “All Girls Garage,” she has demonstrated that repairing motorcycles and cars is not a vocation limited to men only, but women can have an equally successful career as a mechanic.
While Japan is experiencing the worst labor shortage in decades, automakers have recognized the potential of hiring more women. Yui Mitsuhashi is one of them. She is the Captain of the prestigious Osaka University team that builds race cars.
However, like other female auto technicians who love cars, she must decide between a life raising a family or spending her career in the industry, which has a reputation for long hours and significant gender imbalances.
When Jessica Kryssing uploaded a photo of her first day of work to Twitter, it went viral. “By the way,” Kryssing wrote, “I’m the first female technician EVER to work at my dealership.”
She received support from people from all over the country who sent congratulations for her achievement, commending her for highlighting the ongoing issue of gender imbalance in the automotive industry.
At age 25, Chelsea van Wyk qualified as the first woman Audi Master and Diagnostic Technician in South Africa.
“I was a tomboy in my school years, and I always had male friends,” she said. “I’m comfortable being surrounded by men in the workshop. You need a bit of a thick skin at times, but it’s easy to handle. There are different personalities in every work environment, and the workshop is no different.”
Fallon Taylor, 35, restores vintage Volkswagen cars and vans at her shop, East Coast VW Restorations in St. Augustine, Florida. As cars become more and more technological, classic vans have become rare. No computer diagnostics can be applied, so Fallon is fabricating new metals, welding, and producing new seat covers and upholstery by hand for the German-made vans.
Caroline’s Cars was formed based on research and experience demonstrating that women, in particular, find a trip to the garage a frightening encounter. They operated with a female-friendly policy and offered introductory basic vehicle maintenance classes for ladies.
Caroline Lake runs the shop and is determined to educating customers on how to avoid getting ripped off for costly repairs they simply don’t need.
One auto repair shop, Ms. Lube by Mechanchik, claims to be the first all-female repair shop in Toronto. The owner, Jessica Gilbank, is female, and all the mechanics and apprentices are female as well.
AutoNiche is another shop owned by a woman, Emily Chung, who graduated from Centennial College. Both shops show that automotive repair work, while it may not be glamorous, can pay well, and it is creating opportunities for women.
Nancy Boyce was the first Caterpillar Field mechanic in Alaska. Her skill was put to the test on her very first assignment. She was dispatched to a remote logging operation on Prince of Wales Island at the southern tip of the state. Her task was to repair a broken excavator and return to the Juneau Caterpillar dealership in no more than a week. Her efforts brought an entire lumber company back up and running. She was a hero.
Girls in the Garage started as a class to teach eight women about routine vehicle maintenance, such as checking tire pressure and fluid levels. It blossomed into a free event dedicated to helping women learn the basics of car maintenance while having fun. The finely tuned program is now held on the first Wednesday of every month. More than 3,500 women have attended the programs.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 1989, 880,000 individuals worked in the auto service industry, and only 6,000 were women. A decade later, in 1999, 12,000 females out of 837,000 total mechanics worked in the field. The most recent statistics show that approximately 2% of auto mechanics were women in 2013. While the number of females in the industry is still low, significant progress has been made, and females continue to gain ground with new employment opportunities.
Sources: Bloomberg, celebtattler.com, parade.com, abrbuzz.co.za, automechanicschooledu.org