How women can overcome the challenges of entering the auto repair business
Female mechanics are increasingly becoming part of the car repair trade. As with many professions, one of the most important factors for women wanting to become mechanics is to find a role model who will help, encourage and teach you, along with a car repair shop that is willing to train you.
Unfortunately, there isn't a guidebook for how to become a female mechanic (but you will see below that there is a kind of manual for women, so make sure to read on). Only in recent years have some female mechanics started to post articles online about how they started out in the trade, which have helped show younger women the way.
In many cases, they are taking on women in their car repair businesses, as well as holding training sessions which show women how they can deal with their car problems and how not to be intimidated when they have to take their vehicles in for repairs.
Women’s Car DIY Manual
Caroline Lake, the owner of her own garage, has spent years proactively helping women to feel comfortable around cars. She has written the “Women’s Car DIY Manual”, which, she explains, “covers everything from how to find your bonnet catch to how an engine works and lots in between! It is aimed at women as most of the literature out there is so ‘blokey’ and men are often reluctant to part with information – I think sometimes they just don’t know themselves and let’s face it, are not renowned for their patience either. (I have to add though, that the book has also been purchased by a number of men and with many I have been sworn to secrecy about their identity!) Basically, it’s essential reading for anyone wanting to know about their car.”
Women have traditionally been apprehensive about wanting to become mechanics for fear that:
- They won’t be treated equally
- They would be mocked for a lack of knowledge about how cars work
- They don’t have the physical strength to do the job
With times changing, however, women are increasingly being accepted in areas that previously were male-dominated trades. Not only that but more women than ever are working in top professions and buying their own vehicles. In addition, they are strongly involved in decisions on car purchasing with their partners. For these reasons, it makes sense for them to be part of the car repair business as well.
In addition to all female car repair businesses, there is an increasing move among all-male garages to take on female mechanics. They realise that it makes their clients feel more comfortable – both men and women – and that is good for business. That is because female employees are seen as helping to create a friendlier business environment.
These are not the only reasons that women are increasingly becoming part of the car repair business. It is widely accepted, for example, that women bring other skills, like a different approach to tackling problems. In addition, being generally smaller, physically, than men, they are often able to reach certain parts of vehicles that men can’t. Thinking smart and finding new ways of dealing with problems saves time and money both for the garage and the client by speeding up repairs.
How to get started
The first step for women is to be accepted at a college the teaches mechanics and car repair. Knowing someone in the sector and being able to talk to them and network with them is also a big advantage, As is finding a welcoming place to work where you will be encouraged and your skills fostered.
There may also be opportunities to start at the bottom of the ladder, learning how to do relatively simple jobs like changing oil and working your way up and perhaps combining this with formal studies.
Passion for the work and a great attitude will take you far, because physical strength and a willingness to get your hands dirty not enough. Employers want mechanics who will go the extra mile and show pride in their work.
In addition to the obvious need for technical and mechanical skills, working in in a car repair shop also requires the ability to think on your feet, be a problem solver and to communicate clearly with other mechanics and of course with customers.
For women who really want to become mechanics, the opportunities are there, but nonetheless there is still a need to be very determined and thick-skinned. And an all-female garage can also be a great selling point and a way to differentiate your business.
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