Traditionally all roles inside the automotive industry were held by males. Even going back just a few short decades it was unheard of for a female to hold any position from a dealer principle, a design engineer, a car sales woman, a mechanic, a tyre fitter, a service advisor or a vehicle detailer.
Whilst the world changes its views on workplace equality the more traditionally “male industries” have been very slow to follow the lead set down by others. Even the construction industry appears to be ahead of the automotive industry when it comes to having ladies join their ranks.
Various arguments have been put forth trying to justify why this is the case. Conclusions such as physical strength requirements no longer cut it. Modern day workshop equipment removes the need for strong, broad shouldered men to lift engines out with nothing but their bare hands. Proof of this is in myself, a slender built man of mostly skin and bone weighing in at 75 kilos is able to perform any task the job calls of me, yet some eighth graders can put me to shame in the weightlifting department.
Some also argue that teenage girls considering career paths are unlikely to get as excited about cars as boys are. In theory this is probably true, my high school female classmates had no interest in cars. However jump forward a few years, majority of my classmates at TAFE also had no interest in cars either. “Mum said I had to get a job” was uttered just as frequently as “I am passionate about cars” the blokes are just as “uninterested” as the ladies.
These arguments no longer cut it when addressing why there is a shortage of women in our industry.
I believe the issue lies in our high school education system. Whilst I am no expert at educating teenagers, I feel our school systems are putting too much emphasis on the university education over the trade based education and feel this is even more prevalent for the ladies. Traditional stereotyping still seems to happen within our education systems with ladies becoming nurses, air hostesses and childcare workers while men become doctors, lawyers, builders and mechanics.
I believe our schools should be encouraging more young women to explore the automotive industry and what it has to offer.
Our culture is accepting that dance, art and drama are just as valuable as math and science when it comes to our children’s education, I believe the next step is to look at the classes that combine creativity with hands on tasks rather than academic achievements. If teenage girls with a gift for practical, hands on tasks were given the opportunities to thrive in subjects like metal or wood working rather than force them into cooking and design tech, we would see more ladies entering the trades at the end of their schooling.
There is a shortage of decent tradesman, and an even greater shortage of ladies.
Females can and have thrived in the automotive industry. At risk of stereotyping they tend to be more empathetic, more sensitive to consumers needs and wants, mature far quicker, are more emotionally understanding and much better peace keepers than men.
Our team at one point in early 2018 had more females than males on our payroll and I believe our company benefited from it greatly. To date two of the key drivers behind our companies success are ladies.
The Automotive industry has achieved great mechanical advancements in recent years however I believe it has done this with access to only half the talent pool available. Imagine where we would be if we could double the size of that talent pool simply by allowing females to discover the industry at the high school age.