Last week, I wrote a blog about sexism in car dealerships. If you didn’t read it – you can . The article discussed the role of women in industry…from buying to selling. I concluded that not only do women prevent sexism from happening on the sales floor…but they also wear the pants when it comes to car buying.
Turns out they aren’t the only ladies wearing the pants. One of our readers, Hilary, is rockin’ the mechanic overalls and gave us some behind-the-scenes insight into what’s it’s like to be in a “man’s world.” Our Q&A has been edited to give you the highlights!
Q) Give us the DL:
A) I'm going to school full time at Porter and Chester for Automotive Technology. The reason I picked this school is because they have a live shop. So not only do I get the hands-on learning, I also get to deal with customers. A lot of the women are really nice to me, and they seem to warm up to me better. The men on the other hand, it's hit or miss. I can tell when someone doesn't think that I'm capable (even though I am).
Q) Have you always had a passion for working on cars?
A) I got started working on cars because my Dad wanted me to know how to change my own oil and change a tire if I had a flat. I always listened to what he told me (well, almost always), and picked up tidbits of info and tips on how to fix certain things on cars. Since the time I was 16 I've had a crate full of tools that I had collected over the years, since then I've changed it out for a Husky tool bag and snap on tools.
Q) Do you think men find it to be a turn on or a turn off that you probably know more about cars than they'll ever know? (Think: Megan Fox in Transformers)
A) This is a loaded question - haha! Oh dear. It's really hit or miss with the dudes. I had a [guy] come into the shop to get a flat fixed. He walked past me and went to ask my [male] classmates. Then there's the other side of this coin... the dudes that think it's wicked cool I can fix cars and that I do my makeup like a pin up girl in a calendar to fix cars. I can assure you I wear a GM Goodwrench hat that is covered in grease and a uniform that takes away any shape what-so-ever lol.
Q) Best story involving a customer reaction to you working on their car?
A) The little old German man…he's awesome! We found an issue with his power steering hose, patched it up and drove the car to his house. My fellow student and I explained what we had done, and how much new hoses would be. After we finished, he told us stories of Germany and what everything cost and how he went to school for some sort of machining for like $50. As he was winding down his story, he apologized for keeping us and told us "fellas" that we had better get back to school!
Q) Do you think perceptions about the role of women are changing?
A) I think that they will always be changing. We don't wear petticoats and dresses anymore and have perfect hair. Hell, half the time I forget to brush my hair in the morning. Some women are the breadwinners in the household now. We hear more about the stay-at-home Dad and so on and so forth. We could rule the whole world someday mwahahahahahahahaha!!
Q) (Checks Hilary’s hands for sharp objects before continuing) What would you say to other women thinking about the industry?
A) First, you better have a pair of steel ovaries. (Editor note to ensure job retention: we do not condone the use of this language…but we were laughing so hard we forgot to remove it) You can't take things too lightly, and you need to know how to bust balls right back. Excuse the language. Some people can hack it, others can't. Second, GO FOR IT!!! I'm 25 years old and just starting my career. If I can do it anyone can. I love what I'm doing, and I'm going to love it when I get out into the industry. If a woman is thinking about getting into this industry, has the passion, and the drive, then they will go far. I know I'd like to be a shop foreman someday. I'd love to open an all female garage someday as well.
Q) What would you say to women intimidated about bringing in their cars for service without a "man" with them?
A) Don't be. Seriously. It's not like the mechanics or service writers are going to take all your money. They are actually nice people lol. They want to help you as much as you need. Educate yourself if you feel the need, the Internet has a ton of information.
Q) Any tips for women buying or servicing a car?
A) Know what you want or need before you go in. Look up consumer crash reports, reviews on cars, things like that. I personally like to read other customer reviews on the vehicle as well. If you’re buying used, you want a vehicle that was taken care of. Fluids regularly checked and serviced if need be. Look for cracks in the tire. Check under the car for any fluid leaking. If you’re buying new, see what fits your needs and means. Don't buy a BMW if you can't afford $90 brake pads. I've only bought one new car in my entire life. And if you keep up on the service intervals, it will last a very long time.
Kyle S. Reyes is the Director of Marketing for Carter of Manchester.