The car community is a male-dominated world. Messing around with cars is a guy thing. The garage is a place for us men to escape to our own diesel-punk fantasy lands. We hang out with our bros to tinker, cuss, and create.
Well, it turns out women like to tinker, too. And hang out and cuss. And build hotrods.
Today we’re going to explore the car community from the perspective of female builders. Let’s see if we can figure out how to better respect women who wrench.
Let’s start with a familiar scenario. A woman walks into an auto repair shop to fix her radiator. She gets quoted $400. A man walks into the same auto repair shop with the same problem and gets quoted $350. Does this really happen?
A recent study out of Northwestern University concluded that this scenario is not a myth. Women are more likely to be quoted higher prices than men by auto-repair shops. Shocking, right? But that’s not the interesting part of the research.
According to the same study, if a woman walks into the auto-repair shop communicating that she’s already done her research about market rates for the repair and is willing to negotiate on the price, she’ll receive a discount 35% of the time. In comparison, men will only receive a discount 25% of the time if they communicate the same exact thing.
Lesson? Use your voice, no matter who you are – it will get you places.
Gender stereotypes don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. Women must constantly deal with men who don’t get it. It must be especially tough in the car community to get the respect you deserve if you’re a woman who builds.
As a man trying to navigate our post-MeToo world, the only thing I can do is listen to women brave enough to tell their stories.
Recently, Sung and Daniel Wu zoomed with professional builders (and sisters), Jess and Meagan to talk about cars. From their conversation, here are a few guidelines for guys who want to have strong professional relationships with female wrenchers.
- One of the overarching issues is that men automatically assume women know less when it comes to cars. That’s bullshit. Even if she’s younger than you or receives lesser pay than you, don’t assume that you know more. Treat her as a respected colleague and let her work speak for itself.
Leave Your Ego Out of It
- Don’t try to prove that you know more than her. Every car build is always a team effort. Be a team. Treat your female teammates as collaborators, not competition.
Her Design is Probably Better than Yours
- Don’t be butt-hurt when her design gets chosen over yours. Don’t give her shit for the rest of the build because your ego got bruised. Give her the props she deserves for offering the best solution. Perhaps you could learn a thing or two from her so that your design gets chosen next time.
Hotrod Expert, Meagan, describes an all-too-common plot when working with her male colleagues:
“You feel like you’re a team, and then boom they turn around and say ‘How dare you have a better idea than me?’ What they’re really saying is, ‘How dare you have brains.’”
The power is within you to respect women who wrench. There’s a growing army of female builders out there and hopefully you’ll treat them as equals when you encounter them in the garage.