The Small Coalition of Female Mechanics Continues to Grow in Size and Strength
Updated: May 22, 2021
Female mechanics only account for 2.1% of all US mechanics, but they have a considerable breadth of knowledge and experience under their belts.
Women make up half of the population, yet we don't see them in the same number as men in several industries, including the automotive industry. This disparity creates a very sexist atmosphere.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make up 2.1% of all auto mechanics. Female mechanics working in male-dominated workspaces face sexism and job insecurity daily, which perpetuates silence among them. A survey by Automotive News supports this pervasive sexism in the industry.
Nearly 900 women took the survey; almost 70% of them said that they had been subjected to an unwanted advance and asked to do lower-level tasks in place of their male colleagues. These statistics are hindering growth in the industry.
Women account for 53% of new cars purchased each year. This industry should cater to this demographic and needs like the fashion, beauty, health, and wellness or design industry.
This mistreatment is experienced on both sides of the hood by mechanics and customers alike. It's no surprise that A Northwestern University study showed that uninformed female customers are taken advantage of and charged far more than their male counterparts. This maltreatment has caused women to avoid going into auto shops altogether.
Fear not, as a few women are changing what goes on under the road, out on the road, and in this booming industry. There are a few girl's garages and savvy CEOs looking to change that reality. Things are moving quickly with no brakes in sight.
Three Women that are Changing the Auto Industry
Three of many such women empowering females in the auto industry are Audra Fordin, Patrice Banks, and Mary Barra. Fordin is the founder of Women Auto Know, Banks is the founder of Girls Auto Clinic, and Barra is the CEO of General Motors.
Women Auto Know and Girls Auto Clinic are similar companies in that they are women-owned and operated auto shops dedicated to empowering women in the auto industry. General Motors is a very different company, but Mary Barra has changed its strategy for the better, making her an extremely influential woman in the auto industry.
The goals of Women Auto Know are to educate drivers and improve the perception of the auto industry. Audra is also the owner of Great Bear Auto Repair and Auto Body Shop; she has been in the automotive industry for 27 years and seeks to educate and empower other women about their cars.
Girls Auto Clinic is owned and operated by women and caters to women. They provide automotive buying and repair resources, products, and services to empower women and provide them with an auto clinic designed to help and educate them. Patrice Banks is a self-proclaimed "auto airhead" who used to pay way too much on her cars, so she created a business to support women like her.
Mary Barra is the CEO of General Motors since 2014 and is the Chairman of the GM Board of Directors since 2016. Her impact is felt in her company and throughout the industry. Her GM goals are to have a future that has zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion.
Mary Barra's Path Upward at General Motors
Mary Barra started her path to the top of the auto industry in college. Between 1980 and 1985, she was a General Motors Institute co-op student at the Pontiac Motor Division. After she completed her undergraduate, she was an Acting Superintendent at GM.
She got a BS in electrical engineering from Kettering University and a MA in Business Administration from Stanford Graduate School of Business. Immediately after she got her Masters, she reentered her career at General Motors and never left.
Barra has been in this industry her entire adult life. It took her 34 years to get to this unprecedented position.
She also serves on several boards, including the Walt Disney Company and the Duke University Board of Trustees.
At GM, she is the Chair and founding member of the Inclusion Advisory Board, member of The Business Council and a Board Member of the Business Roundtable, Chair of the Education and Workforce Committee, and a subcommittee for the Special Board Committee on Racial Equity and Justice.
Audra Fordin's Life in the Auto Industry
Audra Fordin took over Great Bear Auto Repair and Auto Body Shop from her dad in 1998 and has been the owner ever since. Great Bear has been in her family for four generations, yet she is the first to own and operate the business. She is also an auto mechanic, a skill learned by working side-by-side with her dad.
As a result of the 2008 economic crisis, Fordin founded Women Auto Know and Drivers Auto Know to educate and empower women about their cars. Fordin is a massive inspiration for women auto mechanics as she now owns and operates two auto repair shops.
Her Women Auto Know partners with local auto shops across the United States to ensure women's confidence when repairing their cars. WAK also provides workshops to empower women with automotive insight to improve their experience as drivers, passengers, and consumers.
You can get all that Women Auto Know has to offer with their membership here.
Patrice Banks' Path as an Auto Mechanic
Banks started her path in the automotive industry in 2012. She worked at two male-dominated auto shops between 2012 and 2015: Guys Auto Clinic and Keller's Automotive and Truck Repair.
Patrice Banks founded Girls Auto Clinic in January of 2013, and it has become an incredibly impactful company. She is empowering women to be mechanics, confident drivers, and savvy consumers. Her goal was to create a place she wanted to bring her car for repair and maintenance. Since achieving this, her mission is to educate and empower women through their vehicles.
Girls Auto Clinic is owned and operated by women, catering to all our auto industry needs. They provide automotive buying and repair resources, products, and services to make the automotive industry more compatible with women.
GAC provides Car Care Workshops, car care tips via their blog, and Girls Auto Clinic Glove Box Guide to make women more confident drivers and intelligent consumers.
Before hitting the highway on your next road trip, consider checking out their blogs and take advantage of their expertise. Then hit the road with the confidence and knowledge and never look back, except when switching lanes.
Written by Megan Maxwell