Tag Archives: feminism

MOT and a manicure anyone?

Carterton MOT and treatment-1

Would you buy an MOT and a manicure, or a massage, if they were attractively packaged and priced? I’d certainly consider it.

As you may know, FOXY Lady Drivers Club includes a network of garages that meet our standards in terms of quality, ethics, value for money, cleanliness and customer services.

We do this because few women realise that garages aren’t regulated and mechanics don’t have to be licensed to repair our cars. Which can make for dangerous cars and rip off practices which we know a lot about.

So we check out garage credentials for females and then promote them as FOXY Lady Approved ie female friendly, requiring regular female feedback to keep them on our network and their toes.

To the best of my knowledge one of our FOXY Lady Approved garages in Oxfordshire, called Carterton Auto Repair, is the first in the UK to offer women the combination of manicures and massages included in the cost of their MOT. As you might expect, this is a bit of light-hearted marketing fun but not everyone always sees gender marketing messages in this light.

Just for the record, this sort of initiative isn’t new in the US, France or Australia where women seem more relaxed about this choice of customer services.

What Mumsnetters think of Manicures in Garages

So where best to find out what UK women think about all this than that august barometer of female taste, Mumsnet. Posted under Feminism/Womens Rights this is what NotRealName wanted her fellow Mums to react to, followed by others taking similar and opposed stances.








All this makes for interesting insight for FOXY of course, because motoring services for women are what we do. But it just shows you how different women can be from each other, let alone men. And how unforgiving women can be when it comes to their gender…

Luckily Carterton services are optional and we know why they are doing this and I’m sure it’s a practice that’ll spread, even if you drop your car off and go next door for your manicure.

Men can be arsey too

And if anyone thinks it’s just women that can be arsey here, think again. In a garage in Kent last week the owner told me he’d had to remove his offer of a free Club membership for women drivers leaving feedback because the men wanted to know why they didn’t get one. The owner didn’t know to say ‘Sign your FOXY Lady up, Bill’ and you can likely share her offers and such like.

All this is ironic really. The garage industry has been run by men for men since WWII. Even today only a woeful 2% of staff in the retail motor industry are female. And now that the number of women drivers is about to outnumber that of men, men aren’t prepared to put up with female service levels today, after expecting us to do precisely this for 70 years…

And if men had sorted out the motoring industry during their 70 year reign, it wouldn’t be as dysfunctional as it is and there’d be no need for a motoring support service like ours for women. Which would be an all round good thing.

So let’s all grow up here.

Women are different from each other.

Men and women are different from each other.

Mumsnetters include mouthy and tolerant feminist views alike.

We all need to get on with it and let individual choice prevail.

Let’s celebrate well-intentioned initiatives like Cartertons (and FOXY) that are designed to give us choices that didn’t exist beforehand. It mightn’t be for you and it’s definitely not meant for everyone. But it’s called personal choice and I for one buy it.


Fashion-led feminism or the female business case?

f_t_shirt As ill at ease as they looked wearing these T shirts I suspect that Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg probably had a better idea of the meaning of the F word than most.

A TV programme last week, A Fair Deal For Women, showed a classroom of boys and girls being asked two questions in the classroom.

Firstly if they were feminists and secondly if they supported equal rights. Almost all answered no to the first question but yes to the second.

And yet both questions were the same, couched in different terms.

The definition of feminism

My personal definition of feminism is gender equality in terms of education, training, job opportunities, pay and parental rights/responsibilities. This is based on common sense thinking influenced more by the school of life rather than eminent Suffragists or academics.

My sphere of special interest and influence here is the UK motor industry but it doesn’t stop me marvelling at the work that Malala is doing on a global stage. Not does it stop me wondering how a £45 T shirt promoting feminism might allow The Mail to claim sweat shop factory associations that go against the very fabric (pun intended) of such an intentionally informative communications campaign.

Equality confusion

But there are other areas of misunderstanding here. That this is a feminine issue. That there is no place for equality in some work environments. That men and women should be treated alike as customers and employees…

Equal rights as previously stated? 100% yes, to benefit men and women alike. Thank goodness that most of the enlightened influencers in the motor industry are male.

Categorically ‘no’ to those ostriches who think men and women are the same when it comes to shopping or looking for employment…

Inevitably when you mention gender there is a price to be paid, often in terms of abuse using the anonymity of social media. Someone, somewhere will surely feel the need to express their male superiority in some way or (because it isn’t always just men that object here) women expecting other women to be treated the same as men and not needing special treatment.

Clearly neither camp has my experience of being a regular female motorist (by which I mean neither petrol-headed nor mechanically adept) when it comes to shopping across the board in the motor industry. And if it were the case that all garages and car dealers were qualified to do their jobs (mechanics and car sales staff aren’t licensed to do their job but that’s another issue) there would still be huge gaps between those businesses that provide a female friendly environment as in their cleanliness, comfort and time-saving services.

If businesses in the motor industry want to court the best young recruits they’ll know that these include females who are outperforming their male counterparts in most academic subjects at GCSE level. So they need to address their working conditions with women in mind, with a view to competing with more female friendly industries and employers. And those females that make it to the top need to be seen as role models and actively court females in their wake to follow in their footsteps.

My research among female apprentices tells me that you have to be a special type of individual to get on in the motor industry. Just imagine being the first female mechanic in an unwelcoming macho workshop or the first female selling cars in a showroom, or the first ‘token’ female into an overly complacent all male Boardroom.
Much easier running your own business perhaps (as I do!) because you can do things the female way, not be expected to behave (or become) masculine-like simply to conform. Although many women do.

Enlightened men support women

I am delighted to say that a great number of FOXY supporters are male. Not just because they believe in the principle of equality but because they know from experience that a gender balanced workforce makes for better, joined up decisions and a happier working environment. Not only is gender likely to become an area of considerable competitive advantage when it comes to best practice employers but we are starting to see companies address staff benefits that will appeal to Mums more than Dads. They want to encourage the best females to come forward to take their rightful place in tomorrow’s motor industry.

On the other hand our male support may have something to do with the fact that the number of female motorists will soon outnumber males, that we influence c80% of car/aftersales buying decisions and that we are more demanding customers – than most men have been to date.

The Female Business Case

Some readers will continue to see gender matters as fashion-led feminism because they don’t understand the implications for their business. The enlightened CEOs and influencers know better and see this as ‘The Female Business Case’. My experience is that more and more women are making a female choice in masculine industries like the motor one, whether as customers or employees. Those companies that go the extra mile for her business will win her custom and trust. I think that’s worth the effort and wait…

Vive la difference, as ever.


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Are ‘want it all’ women happy?

Yes I have been fiercely ambitious during my life but the opportunity cost of business success can be a personal one. I can’t help thinking that women who want it all have either been fed a lifestyle myth (by delighted men and miserable women) or they’ll realise what they’ve missed when it’s too late to do anything about it.

I am not sure why want it all women seem to need total control of their lives. We’re forever reading about female career role models, Supermums, domestic goddesses and celebrity sex symbols. How do they do all this and why am I expected to follow suit?  I’m weary enough surviving from morning to night as is, let alone with ‘perfection’ waving at me from a ‘must have’ horizon…

I think feminism has gone too far here and taken a wrong turning even; surely life is intended to be a balanced partnership, not a battle of the sexes? And what cost a career if, by the time you’ve got to the top and look round for a partner to share your spoils with, all the best husbands have been bagged. I can’t imagine anyone choosing to bring up a child on your own… it’s difficult enough when there’s two of you.

Why this topic? I’ve just read some new research from esure’s privately owned insurance provider Sheilas Wheels (no longer part of HBOS/Lloyds). They do mischief PR surveys to draw attention to their female insurance products; this one suggests that nearly one in three women in their sample now bring home a higher salary than their partner and that one in five women are now the main or sole earners in their household.

Apparently 44 per cent of men in the UK would happily stay at home to look after the family and household to let their partners bring home the bacon. Perhaps they think that’s a cushier number? They’d be wrong of course but not so daft perhaps if their female partner works AND organises everything for them to do.

How sad that 12 per cent of this female sample consider a big salary to be the most important aspect and one in five (19 per cent) said that being passionate about their job is top of their list. A ripple effect from The Apprentice TV show perhaps? This research also found that over one million career-hungry women would choose success in the workplace over a relationship.

A more realistic finding, in my FOXY motoring-related experience, is that one in eight (12 per cent) women have returned to work because of the recession and a third (30 per cent) have increased their working hours to help boost the family income.

This reminds me of recent Boston Consulting Group research where women admitted to being stressed, short of time and overburdened. They wanted time saving services and to do business with organisations they could trust; ones who treated them as equals of course but recognised their female needs and differences.

Fortunately we all know that women come in different shapes, sizes and combinations throughout their lives – community mums, career executives, voluntary altruists and soloists of all ages.  No matter what it can be tough being a female because we are likely to berate ourselves for not doing more or better.

But the truth is that women are the nurturing/caring gender by nature and men are the born forager/providers; no harm in trying to adjust the balance a bit on occasion but we can’t odds our natural genes no matter how hard some try.


Women wanting to save time and enjoy female friendly money saving services should consider joining FOXY Lady Drivers Club for help, advice, information and support when it comes to running their family cars.

For details of female friendly UK garages that recognise what busy women want, see FOXY Choice.