Women's Motor Fest
Best Car Shows for 2022: The Biggest Shows Happening this Year
March 9, 2022
Part 4- Sexism: Dirty Little Secrets of the Automotive and Skilled Trades Industries
March 22, 2022

Part 3- Stereotypes: Dirty Little Secrets of the Automotive and Skilled Trades Industries

Dirty Little Secrets of the Automotive Industry

Dirty Little Secrets of the Automotive & Skilled Trades Industries

A Five-Part Series

Brought to you by Femcanic Garage and Chasidy Rae Sisk Writing & Communications*

Content/Trigger Warning:

This series will address issues that may be traumatic for some readers – Contains graphic language and references toverbal abuse, misogyny, homophobia, violence & sexual assault.

Comedian George Carlin said, “Men are from Earth, women are from Earth. Deal with it.”

That’s a hard pill to swallow sometimes, isn’t it? Compare a male and female of any other species on the planet… Sure, there are some biological differences – like a male dog humping everything in sight – but when the doorbell rings, a dog barks at the door, regardless of its genitals.

People, though… Well, we’re different from other species. Men and women respond differently to their environments (have you ever watched a sappy movie with your partner?), and they also have some different needs. But folks of both genders have a lot of similarities as well: They want to be liked, accepted and respected.

Here’s why you give a damn: Women held just 23.6% of jobs in the motor vehicles and motor vehicles equipment manufacturing industry in 2019 (source). Even more damning? Only 1% of positions for collision repair technicians and 1.4% of automotive service technician positions were filled by women.

And it’s not because women can’t do the job – I mean, seriously, have you seen some of these badasses?!

An industry in desperate need of qualified technicians and other personnel cannot afford to alienate half the population right out of the gate!

To celebrate Women’s History Month, we’re giving you some insights into the Dirty Little Secrets of the Automotive & Skilled Trades Industries. We hope you’ll stick around for the ride – learn a little, laugh a little and hopefully find something that resonates!

Guys, we know you have questions – cheers 🥂 to that infamous female intuition! – so we’re going to take a stab at answering them at the bottom of this post .

And hey ladies – although this is addressed to the men for simplicity’s sake, this isn’t merely a “men” problem. There’s a lot of girl-on-girl crime going on in this industry (you get extra cool points if you get the reference)… as women, we can all do a better job of supporting one another. “Just laugh it off” only ensures that our daughters and even granddaughters are still dealing with the same bullshit – and they don’t have our sense of humor! They’re already fed up; they were BORN fed up.

In honor of Women’s History Month, Femcanic Garage and Chasidy Rae Sisk Writing & Communications are partnering each Wednesday in March to bring you the Dirty Little Secrets of the Automotive & Skilled Labor Trades Industries.

This series features many voices, not just ours. Women in the automotive industry have graciously shared their stories**, and we’ve done our best to bring as much information and resources together as possible. We want to dive into those real, raw, taboo topics – the subjects that make you shush your friends if they speak too loudly in public – and we’ll share them through text, audio and imagery because people are diverse and everyone digests information differently – and that’s okay!

We’ll share our thoughts, too, because we want you to understand: This isn’t just a “them” problem, an “over there” problem – it’s a problem impacting you, impacting ALL of us, a problem that’s taking place RIGHT HERE, everywhere, and if we don’t break out of our comfort zones and start talking about these not-so-sexy secrets, nothing will ever change.

But more importantly, we’ll add our voices to the many women who’ve shared their stories because we owe them that. We owe them the added strength of our voices – we are stronger together, and unless we begin to address this as an industry and as a society, our daughters will be sharing these same stories 20 years down the road. We welcome you to this journey and are so excited you’ve decided to join us – women and other minorities need the support of strong allies and industry leadership to solve these problems.

DLS Calendar – Revised 3.14.21

Other industries have made significant strides when it comes to tackling similar concerns, proving that improvement IS possible. We believe it’s past time for the automotive and skilled labor trades industries to have this conversation.

Now, buckle up for a whirlwind of misplaced gender roles, disturbing tales from the frontlines, and a good hearty helping of brutal honesty. But before we dive in, a quick note to the gents and the ladies…

Men: We understand that you’re probably a little reluctant to confront this, and it’s awesome that you’re still with us – we promise we aren’t here to attack you. Now, we may challenge some ideas that that have been instilled in you and offer suggestions you haven’t considered, but it’s coming from a place of love and faith that you’re open, that you’re ready to have this conversation, that you’re prepared to participate in making this world a better place for all people. We know you have only the best intentions, but who hasn’t unintentionally offended someone? Let’s talk about some things you may not have thought of before and how these “women’s rights” issues impact you, too!

Women: For those of you who have faced gender discrimination or any of discrimination’s other ugly faces, we are here with you. We hear you. We see you. We believe you. To the rest of you, we know that not every woman feels oppressed – and we’re glad if you’re among that demographic. Keep on rocking! But a diamond doesn’t shine any less brightly because it’s surrounded by other diamonds… Help one another. Mentor each other. Let’s support ALL the badass women in the automotive and skilled labor trades industries!

Assumed Ignorance: Let a Man Show You How to Do Your Job

Part 3 of 5

Hey Tim, do you need a little help?” Cindy asked. Tim was just performing a simple tire change – something he’d done thousands of times. Although Cindy was the shop manager, Tim had been working in shops a decade longer than she had, so he assured his less-experienced co-worker that he had everything under control. “Tim… If you use this wrench… No, position the jack over here… That lug nut needs to be a little tighter.”

“Enough!” Tim thought. “I don’t need some little girl who knows nothing telling me how to do MY job!” What he actually said? Nothing. He did exactly as he was told, like a good boy.

Aw, Tim didn’t enjoy the mansplaining, huh?

Mansplain (verb): to explain something to a woman in a condescending way that assumes she has no knowledge about the topic (source).

Unsolicited advice about how to do your job can be pretty annoying, especially when your experience and knowledge surpasses your “instructor.” Look guys – unless you’d like women to assume your beer belly (or big nose or small hands) makes you impotent, stop assuming that women are stupid or incompetent just because we have vaginas!

The assumption that women are less knowledgeable is a kind of stereotype, which we discussed last week. And actually, this is a stereotype that is most often thrown at young women – and even young men. Which is crazy since younger generations are more tech-savvy after having grown up with computers. When a person is treated like they’re stupid frequently enough, they eventually internalize that belief. They question their intelligence, their value. This often happens subconsciously, impacting their self-confidence and even leading to reduced performance.

“Women can be beautiful and smart. They just choose to play down their intelligence so they can survive and get along with others during the times in history when women didn’t have equal rights, couldn’t speak out, and were considered property.”

For women in the automotive and skilled labor trades industries, being treated as less intelligent than, or inferior to, men is a pathetically common occurrence. Nearly 60% of surveyed women reported feeling they’d had their “professional influence and credibility undermined by colleagues because of [their] gender,” and 65% have been asked to perform lower-level tasks, such as note-taking or ordering food, that male peers are not asked to do. Nearly 83% admitted that clients and colleagues question their male peers on matters that should be directed to the female professional instead (source).

Now, we aren’t trying to lay a guilt trip on you – we’ve all had a thought (or quite a few of them) that we were ashamed to say out loud. But even when we don’t verbalize them, those thoughts can manifest in our actions and our interactions, often influencing others without our awareness. We’ve done it.

Well, I just took a break from editing this – today was a great day to take a ride on Ronnie, my ’96 Harley Sportster. I’m not a winter rider; I’m a wimp when it comes to cold weather. So I’d forgotten the looks I get. I just rode around my neighborhood a bit (it’s still cool and windy enough that I have no desire to deal with the chill at 50+ mph). Besides the fact that everyone in their yards stared, and ignoring the kudos I received from another woman at the gas station for “riding like a man” since I know it was intended as a compliment… One guy was so busy staring that he would have hit Ronnie (and me, of course) if I hadn’t swerved. A couple blocks over, a little girl on a bicycle was so engrossed with the sight of a female rider that SHE nearly got ran over. Can we just normalize women doing whatever the fuck they want to do, as long as they aren’t hurting anyone else? Please? With sprinkles?

Women perpetually prove themselves capable, intelligent and strong. Yet, her ideas are discounted, she’s assigned menial tasks, and each day, she shrinks; she’s less likely to share her insights, no longer eager to learn and grow. What valuable inventions and process improvements never come to fruition – are never even uttered! – due to all the times she’s been shut down in the past?

Bertha Benz-- "She believed in more than a car. She believed in herself!"

Without Margaret A. Wilcox, we wouldn’t have the car heater. Bertha Benz designed the first brake pads. Manual windshield wipers were created by Mary Anderson, and movie star Florence Lawrence invented the turn signal – can we say brains and beauty?! And don’t forget who led the design team for the Acura NSX: Michelle Christensen.

So, women obviously have some great ideas in those pretty brains of theirs, but when women often feel stifled, most of those innovations never see the light of day. If you encouraged the women around you to reveal their thoughts in a productive way and you actually took those thoughts into consideration –
How much ingenuity could you tap into?

We were painting stripes on a Mustang, and something wasn’t working right. I recommended a solution TWICE and was met with lackluster enthusiasm, no action. One of the guys recommended exactly what I had been saying, and suddenly it was the best idea ever! Surprise…it worked!”

Chasidy & Jayme’s Reaction

Chasidy reaction: OMG, my absolute FAVORITE thing ever is when I’m ignored & then a man repeats my thought – and is lauded as a damn genius. “I guess him just speak them words much more better than me poorly can.” OK, that was physically painful and cringey AF to type, so no, that’s not accurate; that just ain’t it. Men are not inherently smarter than women any more than women are inherently kinder than men. Dudes can be dumbasses, and ladies can be bitches (for the record, either description can also be reversed and apply to either gender). That’s the truth. It’s about the individual person, not about their gender. And guess what? That dude who recommended what our Tennessee gal said twice, not once but TWICE… Y’all ain’t even gonna believe this – but he knew it wasn’t his idea. But it was obviously a good idea, and he heard her, possibly even both times. Let me tell ya how he could have won-won this situation – as soon as everyone agreed what a great idea it was, he could have just tacked on, “Tennessee over here said that a minute ago, but I think I’m the only one who heard her.” Look at that, credit given without being confrontational.

Okay, you know you’ve been there. In that exact situation. You recommend the perfect solution, and nobody pays a bit of attention, maybe they don’t even acknowledge you. Five minutes later, maybe ten, someone else regurgitates your idea. Slightly reworded sure, but you’d think they invented the wheel based on how the rest of the group acts. It’s frustrating as hell, ain’t it?

“A woman who thinks she is intelligent demands the same rights as man. An intelligent woman gives up.”

I know I sound like a broken record here, but being a broken record is better than breaking something or someone, right? Women have a different viewpoint, so they offer a different perspective! Yet, 23% of women report being treated like they’re incompetent in the workplace, 10% are passed over for key projects, and 7% are rejected from jobs. This compares to men at 6%, 5%, and 4%, respectively (source).

Age definitely plays a factor as well – for both genders, but more so for women. Jayme has already explained how demeaning it is when grown women are constantly referred to as “girls,” but it goes beyond the mere words into the infantilization of women. That’s a whole subject of its own, but here’s a study that explores the topic in detail.

We, as men, as women, as an industry, as a society, need to stop treating “different” as “bad,” “stupid,” and “inferior.” We CAN do better, and it’s time to do better! And if you still believe words aren’t important… guess you have nothing to be upset about anyway – these are just words, after all. 😝

“A customer actually told my boss to help me replace a taillight because he didn’t like a “girl” working on his car. He even asked, ‘Does she actually know what she’s doing?’ My boss told him I’d be fine. “

Chasidy & Jayme’s Reaction

Chasidy reaction: Well, I ranted quite effectively on the last one, and now, as I feel rage boiling inside me for what I logically know isn’t uncommon, isn’t really THAT offensive… I realize that I should have started by explaining that this is a sensitive topic for me. My intelligence is something I pride myself on. Now, I’m not the smartest person in most rooms, but I can generally hold my own. And in a room where I’m completely incompetent, I have no problem admitting that I’m there to learn. When I think of disrespect, it’s people treating me like I’m stupid. Of all the hurtful things loved ones have said, one of the worst was when one of the men I love most called me “a silly little girl” when we disagreed; I was in my twenties. So yeah, I seriously HATE being treated like I’m stupid. But it was a common occurrence when I was younger. In high school, I was a cheerleader. I was a busty cheerleader, so essentially, most people assumed I was a “dumb slut.” I was neither. Even the people who knew me pretty well, my friends, considered me average intellectually. I remember arguing with a close friend because I had tested into higher level classes; another was shocked when she realized we were neck-and-neck on our GPA. Both of those were female friends. We women discount one another a lot, too. If men are ever going to respect us, we need to start respecting ourselves and each other, ladies. This isn’t a competition.

This is a man’s world. Women can’t do this job. You’re not strong enough, tall enough, butch enough, smart enough, good enough. Enough… ENOUGH! Possessing vaginas does not make women incapable, and it surely doesn’t diminish their intelligence. But since we’ve already gone there, a question for the men: How often does your smaller brain wrest power from the one on top of your shoulders?

“An intelligent woman has millions of born enemies… all the stupid men.”

Although it’s a common assumption that women are less intelligent than men, research proves otherwise. A study published by Cambridge indicates “that there are no overall (average) differences between women and men in general intelligence, but there are some large and persistent differences on cognitive abilities that on average favor males (e.g. mathematics, mental rotation, mechanical) or favor females (verbal ability, most tests of memory).”

So, yes, male and female brains DO differ in some ways. A study conducted by the University of California, Irvine indicated that a man’s brain has around 6.5 times the amount of gray matter contained in a woman’s brain, while a women’s brain boasts 9 times a male brain’s white matter. This means that women and men process information differently (source).

According to the Harvard Business Review, “Because gray matter characterizes information processing centers and white matter facilitates the connections among those centers, scientists theorize that those differences might explain why men tend to excel in tasks that depend on sheer processing while women show relative strength in tasks that call for assimilating and integrating disparate pieces of information… neither brain type performs better than the other on broad measures of cognitive ability such as intelligence tests. The differences, however, have implications for how decisions are made.”

We’ve often heard the statistic that men will apply for a job if they meet 60% of the posting’s qualifications, but women refrain unless they meet 100% of the employer’s prerequisites. (Read more about the reasons here.) Similarly, women demand a higher level of certainty before acting, while men are more prone to taking risks when stressed (source), so when a woman hesitates, she’s simply processing the information to get to the level of certainty she needs – that short pause doesn’t have any damn correlation to her competence. Because if she can’t do it, she’s going to let you know (as long as you haven’t created an environment where she feels uncomfortable doing that)!

“While doing a full set of wheels and tyre changes, a gentlemen said, ‘Let me show you.’ Now, I’ve done this many times, and I wasn’t struggling, didn’t need help – and when I told him, ‘I’ve got it,’ he informed me, ‘You shouldn’t be doing this – I don’t know why they sent you. They should have sent a man. This isn’t a job for you.’ I know that their comments are more a reflection of themselves and their beliefs than it is a reflection of me… Realising that makes it easier to shrug off.”

Chasidy & Jayme’s Reaction

Chasidy reaction: I’m sorry… Are y’all men using your dicks to jack up cars for tire changes now, or as the dipstick in an oil change? Nah? Then why the hell shouldn’t a woman be changing tires or anything else? That’s the only equipment y’all have that she doesn’t. Sidenote: If you CAN perform vehicle maintenance with your cock, I’m pretty sure you can make a killing on OnlyFans. No, please don’t send us the link. But, seriously, I don’t know how many ways I can say that my vagina doesn’t tell me what I should be doing, what I like (excepting partners, though sometimes my vag gets overruled by my brain, thankfully), or anything else.

You wouldn’t offer to help a dentist examine your teeth, and if you’re doublechecking your accountant’s math, it’s probably time to find a new number-cruncher. Yet, teeth are teeth, and math is the same in every language. Each manufacturer, each model, each year of vehicle necessitates a different set of data. Automotive industry professionals must have at least as much ─ and I personally believe this industry requires MORE ─ knowledge and training as most other professionals; they’ve been bombarded by ever-changing technologies for as long as most of us can remember.

Automotive is a STEM career (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics, in case you’ve been living under a rock, and working in automotive requires all four to varying extents). And as electric vehicles and autonomous driving technology become more common, those advances are only going to come faster. 

This means that it is a highly specialized and skilled industry, so when someone – whether male or female ─ has obtained the skillset needed to perform repairs on these complex vehicles, they damn well know what they are doing.
“When I was working at the quick lube, this oil change customer was being disrespectful to our female service advisor, demanding to speak to a man because ‘women aren’t qualified’ and telling her she ‘should not be doing a man’s job.’ He made her cry! My supervisor was very upset so he asked me to do the oil change – which the customer could see through the huge windows looking into the lube pit from the waiting area. I was glad to do it, alone – I hope that burned him.””

Chasidy & Jayme’s Reaction

Chasidy reaction: Let me spit some wisdom at y’all, courtesy of my godson. I think it was his 13th birthday, maybe his 14th, but on the way to the gun range, I was explaining why I don’t buy my ammo at a certain establishment (I literally had to have a man vouch for me before they would show me a Springfield XDS .45; they offered me a fucking .22). This sweet, perfect barely-a-teenager looked at me as indignantly as I’d ever seen him look and said, “But Aunt Chas, why does it matter if you’re a girl? They’re stupid to act like that. Girls can like guns, too; they can like anything, just like boys can like anything. Right?” That kid inspires me all the time.❤️

We’ve all heard of the glass ceiling, but many women never get to experience that worry; barriers to advancement start at the bottom with the “sticky floor,” a term which is “used to describe a discriminatory employment pattern that keeps a certain group of people at the bottom of the job scale… Close to half of working women (compared to one-sixth of working men) hold clerical or service jobs which are often associated with the ‘sticky floor’ (source). You can learn more about this form of inequality and its impact here.

“My paint instructor in college told me I’d never be able to paint well or get anywhere in the industry because I’m female. I busted my ass, qualified for SkillsUSA Nationals – twice – and came back with silver in post-secondary refinish my second year, and I have since had two jobs as the only painter. His words pushed me to prove him wrong – an instructor certainly should not be saying things like that.”

Chasidy & Jayme’s Reaction

Chasidy reaction: At least she has some balls. (Ok, I hesitated just a sec on that one because I know that Jayme has some thoughts on that phrase.) Thankfully, there are women who push past the taunts, the degradation, the complete and utter bullshit. If there weren’t, we wouldn’t have women in the automotive or skilled labor trades. These are the women who brush it off, who hold their head up despite all the rumors and jokes. She’s strong, she’s formidable. And we are in absolute awe of her. But here’s the thing – she shouldn’t HAVE to be that strong! Also, it’s a miracle we still have young women entering the trades at all when we see so much of this discriminatory behavior coming from teachers. When the industry told you to “shape young minds,” this wasn’t what they meant. Like seriously, just stop. Stop treating people like this. Stop treating women like this.

“Nothing is so necessary for a young man as the company of intelligent women.”

OK, so you know how the automotive industry needs more technicians? Well, their career path begins with obtaining an education that will allow them to enter a shop with the skills necessary to safely repair vehicles. If their instructor, the person providing that education (which puts them in a mentorship position, FYI), demeans their attempts and tells them they don’t belong – based on their gender, not their abilities ─ well, how much strength would you need to disregard the belief of a mentor who didn’t believe you were good enough?

Ladies, we’re mainly talking to you here (but guys, don’t tune out, it still applies!): It is vital that we support the women that walk beside us. Mentorship is critical to career success, yet this survey indicates that 63% of women have never had a formal mentor – generally because they don’t ask. And the same study shows that, contrary to popular cat-fighting beliefs, most women choose to mentor because they want to support other women (80%). Here’s why female mentors are so important.

Hey guys, hope you’re still paying attention because women need male mentors – just as much as men need female mentors. Men and women offer different strengths and weaknesses. Want to know why? Because different people have a variety of things to offer, and whether someone is a man or a woman, you CAN learn something from them if you’re open-minded enough to accept their feedback.

Seriously, I’ve been mentored by so many amazing men AND women, even boys and girls. Everyone is so beautifully unique, and if you actually listen to them, learn from them, you get to keep a little bit of that wisdom for yourself. And to be fair, I’ve never asked anyone to mentor me; most of the people I consider mentors probably have no idea that’s the case. Thank you to everyone who has taught me, inspired me and believed in me over the years.

Not surprisingly, mentoring women helps them advance in leadership positions, an important effort for the industry as a whole since, according to Automotive News, “Studies have shown that companies with diverse leadership teams are eight times more likely to have better business outcomes, six times more likely to be innovative and agile, and 21 percent more likely to outperform on profitability when in the top quartile for gender diversity. Cultural, gender and demographic diversity will make a difference in the long-term success of the auto industry.”

Some more valuable information from the Deloitte and Automotive News study: “An organization’s ability to drive change around DE&I starts with leadership, which can be challenging when 70% of women believe minorities are underrepresented in their company’s senior management team. Recognize the benefits of diversity, equity, and inclusion: A stronger commitment to creating a diverse leadership team may also lead to tangible benefits, including more holistic decision-making and improved financial performance. Provide a clear path to advancement: Mentorship is critical as 60% of women are targeting a senior management position in their career, but only two-thirds of them see a clear path to get there (compared with 75% of men). Learn from other industries: The top two destinations for women who said they would choose a different industry if they started their career today are high tech (30%) and health care (20%), as they are perceived as leading sectors for attracting and retaining a diverse workforce.”

OK, what is the third Dirty Little Secret?

The Automotive and Skilled Labor Trades Industries are just that – SKILLED! Women require just as many SKILLS to perform the job as men do. And they’ve worked just as hard, if not harder, to get to where they are today.

Assuming that a woman is ignorant or stupid just because she’s not a man isn’t half as funny as this joke (which we acknowledge is sexist but is way less triggering than most sexist jokes about women): Why does the doctor smack babies on the butt after they are born?
A: To make sure the dicks get knocked off the smart ones.

We previously pointed out that assumed ignorance is a subcategory of stereotyping, and last week, we shared a lot of information about why stereotyping is so harmful – both for the individual and the industry as a whole.

And in case you missed it: Stereotyping is dangerous. Your belief about a person influences what you think about them, how you feel about them, and ultimately, how you treat them. And that can impact how they feel about themselves, possibly affecting their performance as well as their mental health. If left unchecked, stereotyping transforms into a stepping-stone, creating a path to discrimination and bigotry.

Mentor women. Mentor men too. Mentor girls, mentor boys. The point? This industry needs fresh blood, and new employees – in any position, in any industry – need guidance. In the automotive and skilled labor industries, women are less likely to receive that guidance. Yeah, we saw earlier that a large reason for that is that she just doesn’t ask. We acknowledge that women cause some of our own problems – but can you really say that men don’t do the same?! (And if you’re thinking, “they don’t,” I counter: “HA!”)

But leaving that squirrel alone, now that we know women are less likely to ask for mentors, why not offer to mentor a new female co-worker or student. Or even better, ask a more tenured female to mentor you (this is addressed to men and women)!

Although we aren’t going to dive into this in-depth because it could be a series of its own, I want to take a second to stress the importance of supporting the next generation by working with students at local high schools and colleges – this is the FUTURE of your industry, folks! In the automotive world, check out the Collision Repair Education Foundation or the TechForce Foundation for more information on how you can get involved.)

Guys: You know the drill. Support women – speak up when you see this type of discrimination; that’s how you become an ally. And if you’re an ally (or want to learn more), keep reading for more ways you can support women. But we want to support y’all too by providing a little something just for the guys who’ve stuck with us…

Women are typically assumed to be stupid, but men are assumed to be emotionless. Boys don’t cry. Man up. Stop acting like a girl. We talked about that stereotype a little last week, and we wanted to provide some possible reading materials if you’re interested in a little self-empowerment of your own.

Women: There are lots of great “for women” groups and organizations out there where you can find a mentor, often in a low-key, less intimidating virtual world (especially in today’s environment). A quick Google search of your interest, followed by the word “women,” should yield contact information for other women in your field, possibly even organizations or associations dedicated to advancing women’s careers.

Who We Be

Jayme and Chasidy are the HBICs (Head Bitch in Charge) of Femcanic Garage and Chasidy Rae Sisk Writing & Communications, respectively.

Femcanic Garage is “a community of like-minded women in the skilled-trades, automotive, and motorsports industries. Through our shared accomplishments, careers, and dreams, we elevate and empower each other to realize our highest potential. Together, we strive to smash stereotypes and break barriers for women in the industry and evolve the world to see us as the leaders that we are.” To Jayme, Femcanic is all about “creating a global space for women in this industry, an industry a lot of women love.”

Chasidy Rae Sisk Writing & Communications is a freelance writing operation that provides content and copywriting, predominantly to the automotive and collision repair industries.

What’s This Got to Do with Either of Us Anyway?

We are women. We are feminists. We think this industry offers awesome career options for some really amazing people, but we also believe that the sexism and misogyny that pervades our society plays a role in some of the automotive industry’s challenges. And we have faith that you can do better.

Feminism is not a dirty word, though the stigma against it makes me hesitant to type it, reluctant to own the label – even though I’ve always believed in equality. But I’m not ashamed to be a feminist; I am who I am, and. I am someone who believes in equality, someone who is wholeheartedly convinced that my genitals do not prevent me from being who I want to be – and that includes pursuing the career, hobbies or anything else I so choose. I AM a feminist.

Feminism is not a dirty word, though the stigma against it makes me hesitant to type it, reluctant to own the label – even though I’ve always believed in equality. But I’m not ashamed to be a feminist; I am who I am, and. I am someone who believes in equality, someone who is wholeheartedly convinced that my genitals do not prevent me from being who I want to be – and that includes pursuing the career, hobbies or anything else I so choose. I AM a feminist.

Feminism (noun): belief in and advocacy of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes expressed especially through organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests (source).

Note how it says equality, rather than subjugation. Feminists aren’t trying to become the ruling gender; leaders should be elected based on knowledge and skills, including interpersonal “soft” skills, rather than on whether they have a penis or a vagina.

But here’s another perspective on what feminism COULD mean – if gender equality is embraced.

In an industry that accepts women’s equality and promotes diversity, women will no longer feel pressured to become one of the guys to fit in. Each woman will be able to “stop trying to be a second-class man and be a first-class woman.”

Women will be able to own the fact that, yes, we are women, and yes, we are a minority in this industry – but we won’t have to try to be anything other than the woman each of us already is.

What if being a feminist simply meant embracing and falling in love with your own version of femininity? There’s a gentleness that’s often inherent in women, and tragically, it’s frequently suppressed in male-dominated industries where to be a woman is to be “less than.”

But being a woman is a gift, and that softness is part of what makes women so special. Being a badass in the shop doesn’t have to prevent you from showing your heart of gold – and that also applies to men. Men are allowed to have – and express – emotions, too!

Why We’re in Your Face

Inequality hurts ALL people – men, women, black, white, LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, Asexual), or heterosexual. It sets up a system where everyone is told what they can do, who they can be, how high they can reach.

So why is no one talking about it? Sure, some people don’t recognize it’s even happening, especially people who’ve never experienced or witnessed it – after all, how do you explain color to the blind, right?

But there’s a larger reason: FEAR. We (as individuals, as women and as people in general) are afraid. We’re afraid of how we’ll be perceived if we call out bad behavior, if we set standards for how we’ll be treated, if we demand equality.

And we’re afraid for good reason. The history books are full of martyrs who stood up for what was right – only to be knocked down and persecuted. No one wants to lose their career because they “can’t take a joke.” Never mind that the joke stopped being funny long ago.

“All growth starts at the end of your comfort zone.”

We need to leave our comfort zones - it’s time to BREAK THE SILENCE!

However, that can only happen when women in the industry collectively step into their true and authentic selves, and if WE are too afraid to do it, how can we ask anyone else to take that step?

This series is very personal, for both of us. While planning and laboring over this series, Jayme and I had numerous conversations. We talked through the risks, the fears, the comedy, and the tragedy of it all. The hardest discussion, though, was trying to identify our WHY.

Why ARE we doing this? Why did two busy women (with careers, side hustles, households to support, and occasionally social lives) decide to take time out of their already-hectic lives to research, interview, create graphics, sit on video calls for hours on end, and create content that has caused stress, anxiety, discomfort, lost sleep, tears, nausea… It’d be so much easier to relax on the couch and watch a sitcom!

Jayme’s reason boiled down to this:

My children are the reason for everything I do. As the mother of a son and a daughter, my ultimate purpose is to do what I can to create a world that is safer, better, for them to live in. My job is to protect them, and though I can’t control everything, I need to do what is possible.

The thought of someone treating my child (or anyone I love) in the way that these women have been treated – the idea of them going through that – is unimaginable. This is something I can do.

These topics are still grossly taboo, and the needle needs to move. I can use my community, my skills, my network, my voice, and my passion to do my part – to try to make a difference. This is something I can do.

I’ve dealt with and seen these issues my entire career, and I’ll be damned if my children have to go through the same thing; it’s one thing to hurt me, but it’s another entirely if you hurt my child. But speaking up against injustice sets the right example for my kids. This is something I can do.

Maybe, just maybe, by using my platform, my voice, I can help a woman. Help her prevent a situation or help her understand how to confront it. Maybe this series helps a man understand that the most dangerous thing is silence, and he becomes an ally, speaking up against those other men AND women who verbalize their misogyny. This is something WE can do.

“It is not the intelligent woman v. the ignorant woman; nor the white woman v. the black, the brown, and the red, it is not even the cause of woman v. man. Nay, ‘tis woman’s strongest vindication for speaking that the world needs to hear her voice.”

For me, this is a topic that’s been on my mind for a while – not just in the automotive industry but in general. It’s something I’ve dealt with my entire life – being told what I could do, how to act, what to say, how to dress, how to look, and so on (and on, and on, and on…since 1985).

Like Jayme said, you can hurt me, but there will be hell to pay if you hurt my child. I am not a mother, but I have many children who I consider “mine:” nephews and nieces, a bonus kid, and 14 godchildren, 11 of whom are girls.

A thing happened a couple years ago to one of them. A thing that has happened to many women, and I’ve always known it lurking possibility, even when I was a girl. And though I’m not ready to go into detail, #metoo.

But it felt different when it happened to one of my girls. To find out that a man had put his hands on a child that I consider MINE to protect – twice. A 7-year-old girl, later a 13-year-old girl. A child. My child.

I’ve never felt so much despair, so SO much despair. So helpless, hopeless. Why wasn’t I there? Or her mother, father, grandmother, brother, preacher, teacher, anyone else – why was she alone with a predator?

Then, I got scared. There are well over two dozen girls in my life – my bonus daughter, goddaughters, nieces, friend’s children, etc… Statistically, that means that at least four of them will have the same experience in their lifetime (source). How can that be the world we live in?

Finally, I got angry. And I’ve stayed angry as I’ve watched repeated assaults on equality, on women, on friends, on strangers. As my girls have told me about boys groping them at school, about teachers demeaning them, about men in their 30s and 40s asking teenagers on dates.

I’ve struggled to compose my thoughts, to express this, to speak with my voice. I’ve never had such a hard time writing something, but I’m so glad that Jayme and I decided to collaborate on this. It’s scary, but her courage strengthens me.

For the first time in years, I feel like my voice could possibly do some good; I don’t feel helpless or hopeless. I feel empowered. And I hope you will too.

For too long, we’ve all been waiting – waiting for change, for progress, for permission, for leaders in the automotive industry (and in the world) to finally say, “Enough is enough!”

We’re ready for change NOW – change that benefits women, men, boys and girls – change that will make a better future for all of our children. We are stronger together.

We hope that, through Dirty Little Secrets of the Automotive and Skills Trades Industries, we can provide women and men alike with the strength to give themselves permission and to find the courage to share their stories. We can make this industry a more diverse, equitable and inclusive place for everyone. This is something we can all do, together.

With hope and faith in a better future,
Chasidy & Jayme

*The views and opinions expressed in this blog series, Dirty Little Secrets of the Automotive & Skilled Trades Industries, are solely those of the authors, Jayme Blasiman and Chasidy Rae Sisk, and do not reflect the views, opinions or policies of any past, present or future employer, client or any other organization with which Jayme or Chasidy are affiliated.

**Identities of contributing professionals have been concealed to protect the innocent and subsequently the guilty. Provided ages are approximate.

***References to all individuals, organizations or concepts in this series are done provided for informational purposes only. You should not rely upon any information or materials on these pages in making or refraining from making any specific business decision or other decisions. In most cases, we have no affiliation with those mentioned, but in all cases, no compensatory arrangement was made for the reference. Actually, we’re hoping they aren’t mad that we mentioned them! While we believe that the resources, individuals and organizations represent the traits that we admire, that belief is limited to our experience and exposure to them. We take no responsibility or liability for the conduct or content of those entities, their sites, or any offerings made. Additionally, we make no warranty regarding any transactions, products or services executed through or by a third party. All such transactions are conducted entirely at your own risk. Any warranty provided in connection with any of these third party’s offerings or services will be solely provided through said third party, not through Femcanic Garage or Chasidy Rae Sisk Writing & Communications, LLC.

Chasidy’s unfiltered thoughts – A note:

These are my gut reactions and the part of this collaboration that has given me the most hesitation. I rarely write in my voice – my projects require providing an objective viewpoint or assuming someone else’s voice, so I do my best to avoid interjecting myself into the story.

That is not the case in Dirty Little Secrets… you’ll find glimpses of me throughout these blogs; however, these are overt interjections that are me at my rawest, most unfiltered and least PC. They are the thoughts you’d normally only be privy to if we were kicked back on my couch with a glass of wine in hand. So the professional in me apologizes, but the woman who believes in equality – well, she knows that my embarrassment is worthwhile if it makes just one person second-guess a previously unfair practice. Thank you for tolerating my snark.

Bonus Content

“At my interview as a painter, I was told “I just don’t think a body shop is a place for a woman; they’re better off in the office.” He didn’t hire me, but when he called me back a year later, I went – there weren’t many body shops hiring in my area. He hired me as a helper but wanted to move me to the office eventually. He was a good guy but sucked to work for. I didn’t get paid squat, and he always made me feel like trash if I messed anything up – I was expected to be like the guys with years and years of experience, even though I had only been doing it for a short time. I never regretted working there because I got a lot of good experience, and it made me appreciate my new shop that much more.”
“I have only good things to say about the older techs in the shop; I’ve always been treated equally and with respect, like everyone else. I’m always given opportunities to help out, and they’re always willing to teach me new things. I am so happy with my choice of working in the trade! The only negative things I’ve ever run into is with the guys around my age – there’s a lot of jealousy and just negativity when I succeed or get along with the older techs.”
“I used to work at a shop that was owned by a woman and then her son took over, and it was 100% supportive and treated men and women equally. I can’t say the same for the customers, but we always had ownership’s backing when we needed it. Now I work at a shop that is probably better than most, but there is definitely some subtle sexism, such as there only being a men’s bathroom in the shop, the guys referring to other men as “chicks” when they are being dramatic, and resistance to hiring females in the shop because they might not “fit in.”
I’ve received hundreds of supportive and encouraging comments. They tell me I’m making the difference, that I’m amazing at my job. When I was offered a position during a job interview, they told me, “Out of everyone here, your skills are beyond a value we can compensate you for, but we will try.”

Guys, we know you have questions – cheers 🥂 to that infamous female intuition! – so we’re going to take a stab at answering them here.

If the jobs are there, what’s stopping women from applying for them? That’s why we’re here – the dirtiest little secret of all. But it’s not really all that secret, is it? They are the buzzwords everywhere; they’re needed in every industry. Diversity. Equity. Inclusion. These are scary thoughts, but we promise to take it slow and break it down.

Diversity is just variety, and a little change never hurt anyone, right? Right. Equity means fair and impartial, easy enough. OK, and here’s the big one that we get stuck on. Inclusion is equal access to opportunities and resources. That’s it.

And let’s clear up one common misconception that’s pretty irking:

Including women doesn’t mean excluding men. The whole point of inclusion is INCLUDING EVERYONE, regardless of gender, race, religion, or anything else that is completely unrelated to someone’s ability to perform their job functions.


Well, my company has this covered – we hire women, and we treat our girls right! (+1 cool point if you recognize the subliminal sexism in this statement!)

You’re in the majority in that assumption. In fact, only 78% of men in the automotive industry believe that a lack of diversity, equity and inclusion “prevent people from considering a career in the automotive industry;” however, 64% of women disagree, making this the most common explanation they see for a lack of interest in automotive – more prohibitive than income, promotion opportunities, or any other dissuading factor (source).

But that’s just the perception, not the reality! She would tell me if…

If you’re still having doubts that you should be concerned about this issue, check out these stats:

When asked if they would stay in automotive if they were starting their career today, 45% of surveyed women said they would choose a different path (source). And unfortunately, she probably wouldn’t tell you if she’s uncomfortable or facing discrimination – although 90% of women indicate the industry’s bias towards men negatively impacts diversity (source), few women talk about the misogyny and sexism they’ve faced because they fear repercussions – demotions, unpleasant assignments or treatment, even job loss.

But if she talked, we’d listen. She just has to speak up!

Even speaking up can be an issue in the male-female dynamic. Women who express their discontent are generally dismissed, especially in situations when they are outnumbered by men.

Best case scenario: We’re accused of being emotional, bossy, too aggressive.

Worst case scenario: We are called a bitch, told to go bleed, even physically assaulted.

I’m feeling attacked here.

Welcome to our world! But seriously, buddy, we don’t think you’re a bad guy (????but if you ARE a misogynistic ass – fight me, my dude ????). Honestly, you’re probably a great friend, loving partner/parent, and maybe you even genuinely respect the women in your life. But you can’t know what you don’t know – you haven’t experienced the pains of being a woman any more than women have experienced the pain of being kicked in the ‘nads.

But seriously, aren’t things better? Have we made progress on equality? Sure! Thankfully, things ARE better than they were 50 years ago, 20 years ago, even 10 years ago.

But does that mean the problem is gone? Not yet.

If you install one or two tires on a car, how far will it go? Not very – but luckily, the automotive and skilled labor trades industries are pretty accustomed to constant technological advances, so we believe that you can translate that same diligence to social advances!

Welcome to the adventure!

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