As automotive technology evolves and we see everything coming into play — from hybrids to EVs to alternative fuel to self-driving cars — it’s almost as if the opportunity changes and opens up more for women. Because it is less about mechanics and more about solving technical problems.
Many of the ladies we interviewed said their favorite classes were electronics and EVs. They gravitated to that kind of problem-solving, where I think the men were more about the technical aspects of repair. The evolution is here, and many women don’t think of themselves as traditional technicians.
So you think the ranks of female technicians have the potential to grow as the internal combustion engine era winds down?
That’s a big part of it. There is a big comfort around working with computer codes and tracking down problems through a diagnostic computer system. The younger generation is more aligned with that kind of problem-solving. These ladies are so fearless that they just march ahead, even if they’ve had some adversity. You take all that tenacity and all that skill with computers and you have great potential for filling the tech shortage.
What can a new-vehicle dealer do to make working in the service department more appealing to female technicians?
Many of the women we talked to were the first female techs hired at their stores. And there were no changing rooms or locker rooms for women. So they’d use a public restroom or the dealer would retrofit an area. But it didn’t work because it set women apart. They don’t need to be set apart, just treated equally.
Dealers need to provide specific female uniforms, and there are even some specific tools made for smaller hands that the ladies talked about. Also, many employers allow pinup calendars in male techs’ workspaces. Women adapt themselves to those situations and take it in stride, but deep down inside they are thinking, “Can we leave that behind and just move on?” Women need to know they are safe and comfortable, and they need to know what to do if something happens. Can they speak up without fear of retribution? What mechanism has the dealer set up to help women in these situations?