Females of all ages find skills, jobs in auto mechanics. It's time to take your car in for a tune-up, but you're feeling a little apprehensive. So what do you do? You take along your husband, father or brother for extra security to that male bastion, the local service station.
"Whenever, if at all possible, I take my dad with me," said Wendi Sawchuk, 23, of Macomb Township. "If I can't, which is most of the time, I just trust the mechanic."
But things are changing in the world of car care, where more and more women are swapping blind trust for knowledge -- and where some women are even turning that knowledge into jobs as technicians.
Women are advancing in technology at a rapid pace throughout the world. The National Institute for Women in Trades, Technology, & Science is an excellent resource regarding a variety of careers for women.
Working on barriers
Although an ASE report shows that the number of female auto technicians has increased over the past 12 years, some women find it hard to break down gender barriers in the workplace.
"You are going to be up against extra challenges," said Susan Christophersen, manager of service training for AC Delco. "Some people encouraged me a lot, other people asked 'Why are you doing that?' It's a nontraditional field (for women)."
Girl Scouts across the country are breaking tradition by sporting the Car Care Badge. Through the organization's Car Sense Interest Project, scouts learn the fundamentals of vehicle maintenance.
Girls in grades three through six team up with professionals who show them how to check fluids and oils, change tires and perform safety inspections.
"They really enjoy it and a lot of them are interested in how engines work," said Kristin Knudson Harris, spokeswoman for the Michigan Metro Girl Scouts Council. "Every 16 year old wants a new car and here they learn how to take care of it."
Tips for female car owners
The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence offers these tips to women:
- Ask friends and associates for recommendations.
- Read your owner's manual and follow the recommended maintenance schedule
- Be prepared to describe the symptoms and supply a written list of recent problems.
- Ask as many questions as you need.
- Before you leave, be sure you understand all shop policies regarding labor rates, guarantees and methods of payment.
- Michael Engels Career Technical Education counselor for Academic & Career goals.
- Cliff Meyer Automotive Technology, Department Chair
Here you will find Women in Automotive and Technology resources. For more information in regards to Women and Careers enroll in WS 120 course at Saddleback College.