Jody DeVere, CEO of AskPatty.com, a site that provides automotive advice for women, is passionate about bringing more women into the automotive industry, and Valvoline is too. Jody connected with a few women who have found success in the industry. Find out how they broke into this male-dominated trade.
In a new report, the TechForce Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to champion students to and through their education and into careers as professional technicians, predicts that demand for new vehicle technicians from 2016 to 2026 will be three times higher than was previously projected for the 2014 to 2024 period. This is great news for women looking for opportunities in technical careers. Women are a growing force who work together to recruit, train, mentor, inspire, and support each other. Who are these women? What roles do they have in the automotive industry? And most importantly, what advice can they offer women who want to pursue automotive technical careers?
Jill Trotta, Director of the Automotive Group at RepairPal, has been a professional in the automotive industry for more than 20 years. She has a deep love for the industry and says she has always sought out other women in the field for support.
“Getting tied into groups of women in the automotive field like the SEMA Business Women's Network (SBN) and Women in Auto Care, has been my secret sauce,” Jill said. “Supporting, mentoring, and connecting with other female mechanics has been vital to my success because we are such a minority in the field.”
For Jill, watching other women progress and sharing in their daily ups and downs helps validate her experiences working in the auto industry. She encourages young women to provide and share opportunities with each other to elevate everyone involved. Surrounding herself with strong women has always been a priority of hers. With experience under her belt, Jill is focused on mentoring up-and-coming women in the industry.
“… I try to be available to talk to, problem solve with, and encourage other women to enter the field and become successful,” she said. “Building community, sharing stories and experiences and staying connected is a very important part of elevating ourselves and each other in the industry.”
Amy Mattinet is an automotive repair shop owner and former President of The Women in Auto Care (WiAC), an organization dedicated to providing opportunities, education and career leadership to women in the auto care industry. She’s morphed her love of engines and vehicles into a successful career that she’s passionate about. She wants women interested in pursuing a career in the auto industry to know there are many more opportunities out there aside from working as a mechanic.
“There are opportunities to work in the industry as a painter, fabricator, welder, manager, service adviser, business owner, marketer, and much more,” said Amy. “I feel that any women can be successful in this industry as long as they decide to pursue their dreams, work hard, and find the right teacher or business that will support their growth.”
Amy recommends that women join industry groups and simply get involved.
“Networking and connecting with peers is a great way to build any type of career, especially one where women are such a minority,” she said.
Aside from WiAC, some of Amy’s favorite auto organizations are Bogi’s Garage and The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).
Amy explained that with each new ASE certification, mechanics gain professional credentials that help to validate their automotive specialty knowledge and contribute to feelings of personal accomplishment. When the Master Certification and Advanced Engine Performance Specialist Certifications are achieved, it shows an advanced level of knowledge and dedication.
“Many times you will find yourself the only female in the room, but never think you are alone,” she stressed. “There is a tribe of women who are very successful at what you want to do who are more than willing to help you move forward on your path.”
Christina Schneider is an automotive student at her local community college. Before she got into the program she had very little knowledge of the workings of an engine, but always had the desire to learn more about cars. The only problem for her was that she didn’t know where to start.
“Once I learned how to do an oil change, that was it for me,” said Christina. “I felt a sudden connection with being able to care for my own vehicle even with just a simple oil change. I wanted to learn more.”
Shortly after, Christina signed up for Intro to Auto and Brakes and was hooked. Since then she has studied engine management, performance and drivability, steering and suspension, and manual drive trains and axels.
On top of being a full-time student, Christina is also an entry-level service technician at Hyundai of La Quinta. Throughout the day she is trained by another technician while also working on cars independently. It’s not uncommon for her to complete oil changes, tire rotations, transmission flushes, and more, on her own.
As a female, Christina feels empowered and comfortable working in the auto industry.
“I’m pleased to say that I am treated with equal respect in this business,” said Christina. “I was never once shown that because I am a female technician I couldn’t get the job done.”
Christina stressed that more females are needed in this field, and that there are ample opportunities out there.
“People are always going to need their cars to function properly,” she said. I must say that I feel I’ve made the right choice in pursuing my love for automotive. There is a great career ahead of me.”
About the Contributor: Jody DeVere is the CEO of AskPatty.com, Inc, a website and blog that provides automotive education to women.
*This article reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily that of Valvoline.