Tag Archives: female mechanics

Foxy Faye meets female friendly garage employer in Braintree

This thought provoking story reminds us that parts of the motor industry are in urgent need of a radical female friendly makeover to challenge and banish old fashioned views and stereo-typical ‘blokey’ comments about jobs women can and can’t do…

Because the fact is that women can do any job they want to; as well as men and often better than them.

Fortunately there is a happy ending to this story, thanks to Grants SEAT in Braintree and you must forgive a shameless plug here because Grants SEAT is, of course, part of the FOXY Choice approved Female Friendly garage network…

But how many young and talented women like Faye Gates have been put off an exciting career opportunity in the UK motor industry today because of similar misogynistic views that have gone unchallenged and remained entrenched?

This is Faye’s story…

Colchester Institute student Faye Gates was beginning to lose hope of ever finding the apprenticeship she needed to complete her three-year vehicle maintenance course after receiving more than 200 knock-backs from garages.

Reasons for rejection included ‘we don’t employ women in our workshop’, ‘you’ll be too worried you’ll chip your nail varnish’, ‘you’d be better suited to a job on reception’ and ‘we just don’t have the facilities for women.’

But after reading about her plight in the Braintree and Witham Times earlier this year Faye was offered a trial by local car retailer Grants SEAT and, after impressing them in that role, she was taken on full-time as the dealership’s latest apprentice and has since been enrolled on the SEAT Advanced Apprenticeship Programme at the Volkswagen Group’s state-of-the-art National Learning Centre.

And, after finally earning the confidence of a forward-thinking employer, she has regained her ambition and is once again determined to work her way through the ranks to become a SEAT Master Technician.

An excited Faye said: ‘I’ve wanted to be a technician since I was about 14 when I started hanging about with people who were really into their cars but I was beginning to give up hope of ever finding an apprenticeship.’

‘But I sent out so many CV’s and got nowhere and people were often really blatant about the reasons why they didn’t want to hire me. On one occasion I was told by a garage that they had no vacancies only to discover they’d given an apprenticeship to one of my (male) classmates at college a few days later.’

‘It’s absolutely brilliant to be at Grants where they value all their employees and treat everybody equally. There’s just a really nice atmosphere and everyone genuinely gets along. I’m learning loads here and am really enjoying getting to work on all the cars in the range and using all the latest equipment. It’s also brilliant being on the SEAT Advanced Apprenticeship Programme and the facilities they have and the way they teach is just amazing.’

Grants SEAT Managing Director, Darren Williams, said:
‘It  beggars belief to hear some of the comments made to Faye as she tried to pursue her dream career. The reasons people gave for not employing her would have been totally unacceptable decades ago but in this day and age they’re absolutely outrageous. Thankfully though, they’re not representative of the modern motor industry.’

‘We were absolutely delighted to give Faye a shot after reading her story in the Times but giving her a job was no sympathy vote – she earned it. She was really impressive on her trial and since joining the team, her enthusiasm and willingness to learn has really shone through. Now she’s started her training properly on an industry-leading apprenticeship programme I’m sure she has a very bright future.’

Anthony Aldridge, a qualified Technician at Grants SEAT, said: ‘Having Faye join the dealership has been no different to when anyone else comes on board. She’s been a great addition to the team and is getting on really well.’

If any young women are reading this and wondering how they might find a job in the motor industry today I suggest they browse through the database of FOXY Choice female friendly garages and dealerships for starters. Another good place to look for career information and opportunities is the IMI (Institute of the Motor Industry) career website.

And for 1:1 advice, by all means email me direct, Steph Savill via steph@foxychoice.com.


Should girls be boys and vice versa?

Don’t ask me why I read research about gender differences when this usually winds me up afterwards.

Vive la difference is my gender take on life and I have been known to take a particularly dim view when someone suggests girls should be boys and vice versa…

The latest research appeared in Wednesday’s Telegraph from the catchily titled ‘Perspectives on Psychological Science’ journal and  seems to confirm that women COULD be as good as men at car maintenance and DIY if they wanted to be.

This is based on tests the US Army carry out to assess the capability of potential recruits. These suggest that it’s more a case of motivation than genuine gender aptitude. Fortunately the University of Iowa’s Professor Frank Schmidt isn’t suggesting that mechanical talents are compulsory and admits that it’s very hard to change people’s interests which form early in life.

What I’d like to know is why anyone would want to encourage women to be mechanics, or men beauticians for that matter, when it’s obviously a very small number of either that might want to cross the stereotypical divide.

Let’s look at the motor industry for example. Should women be encouraged and trained to be mechanics to then be feted for their engineering or technical triumphs? When men don’t get the same publicity.  Do men who create a new perfume or lipstick get the same encouragement I wonder?

Even if being a mechanic was one of the most exciting careers in the motor industry (which it might be to some), nothing could ever make me want to be one and local car drivers should be eternally grateful to know this!  This is why I have a mechanically-minded husband, breakdown insurance and use a network of female friendly garages to service, maintain and repair my car when need be.

But I have lots of other and more natural skills to contribute and the motor industry should be celebrating and encouraging female employees to add their talents where they are needed most (I’d say that is in the customer service area).

Having said that about me (and on behalf of many foxy lady drivers who probably feel the same way too), nobody could be more supportive of women who have technical and/or engineering leanings and who want to pursue a career on the garage floor or in accident repair paint shops. Go for it girls… I will defend your right to equal opportunities when it comes to your education, career and pay. But it’s still a man’s world of course.

In a nutshell, most women are different from most men (thank goodness) and we don’t want to be treated the same as them – even if it’s under the misguided cover of equality.

And even if women could do maintenance and DIY if we wanted to, I get no more comfort than I assume a blokey man would do if he was told he could do delicate embroidery work and elaborate floral displays if he wanted to.

So let’s have less of this politically correct bananas in future.