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!

Stereotypes: Make Me a Sammich

Part 2 of 5

“So, I’m going to be a stay-at-home dad for a couple years,” Christian finished telling his boss, turning in his two-weeks’ notice. Since his wife had taken time off with their first child, they had decided that he would do the honors this time around.

“You WHAT?!” Mr. Johnson laughed. “I guess we know who wears the pants in your family. I didn’t realize I’d hired such a ball-less chick!”

Realizing how he would be perceived simply for prioritizing his family, Christian updated his LinkedIn profile and his resume to indicate that he spent the next two years running a consulting firm – though he never accepted a client.

The assumption that she’s office staff, although she’s clearly wearing a technician’s uniform. You’re too pretty to turn a wrench! The claim that she’s overreacting – and the subsequent context that her feelings aren’t valid, even as you question her experience, her skillset. What are you ordering for lunch, sweetheart? The subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) demeaning words change, but the meaning is always the same: this isn’t her place; she doesn’t belong!

Stereotype: (noun) “a mistaken idea or belief many people have about a thing or group that is based upon how they look on the outside, which may be untrue or only partly true. Stereotyping people is a type of prejudice because what is on the outside is a small part of who a person is. Like other untrue opinions, stereotypes might be used as reasons to discriminate against another person…”

Women are constantly judged, perpetually placed in a nice tidy box in people’s minds.

But so are men, especially automotive professionals.

This mentality is a crying shame because the automotive industry is filled with some of the smartest, kindest, most generous people around. And as far as educated? We all know the old “grease monkey” days are a thing of the past – today’s cars are high-tech computers, only much more dangerous, and your skills are what ensures the safety of so many families.

Okay, okay, they’re just words. Sticks and stones and all that jazz, right? No! Why? Well, words hurt – and it doesn’t make you less of a man or woman to admit that. When stereotypes are applied to us (or someone who looks like us or who has our same hobbies), it doesn’t feel good. We question our value and skills, and we may even begin to believe the stereotype is true – whether we realize it or not. Sometimes, our reactions are internalized, our feelings are subconscious, but they can still leaving a lasting impact.

From a psychological standpoint, being stereotyped has a negative impact on folks’ self-worth and their confidence in their ability to perform a task, and this can lead to stereotype threat. Stereotype threat is “a situational predicament in which people are or feel themselves to be at risk of conforming to stereotypes about their social group… These effects are also increased when they expect discrimination due to their identification with a negatively stereotyped group. Repeated experiences of stereotype threat can lead to a vicious circle of diminished confidence, poor performance, and loss of interest in the relevant area of achievement (source).”

Words can inspire. And words can destroy. Choose yours well.

Why assume you know anything about a person, simply based on their appearance, their occupation, or their interests? Knowing who you are presents many challenges, for all of us – and that makes perfect sense because who we are changes constantly based on our environment and our experiences. But when the environment where we spend at least 40 hours each week is filled with negativity and vitriol, the way we change reflects that – we become embittered, insecure, and angry… oh so angry. Eventually, those feelings can impact your career, your family, and your very sense of self-worth.

We’re going to hear from some ladies about how stereotyping in the automotive industry has impacted them and their careers, so take a seat and imagine hearing these types of comments directed at you, over and over again –
Would those “jokes” still be funny?

“When I told an older gentleman that I wanted to work in a speed shop someday, he told me no one would hire a woman, but I’d ‘make a great parts girl.’ I’ve always been a bit timid so yeah… I believed him and gave up.”

Chasidy & Jayme’s Reaction

Chasidy reaction:

She quit? She fucking QUIT?! That makes me so mad – because I can relate. There are so many things I didn’t try growing up. Why? Well… “girls don’t do that,” “you might get hurt,” “behave like a lady,” and a whole host of utter bullshit. It took over a decade of adulthood before I finally realized that I am the ONLY one who gets to decide what I do, who I am and who I become.

Ironically, when I look back, the most pressure to “act like a girl” came from the women in my life. I realized it in college, during my first Women’s Studies course, when everyone was sharing the same key phrases – but most of them were quoting their fathers. I raised my hand and proudly shared, “My dad is the one person who never made me feel like I should be anything or anyone other than exactly who I am – and he never even implied that being female should limit me in anyway.” Thank you, Daddy

Well, there went another potential Automotive Rockstar! Another fun fact about stereotypes: They can lead to poor performance and a loss of interest. Just think about that for a second.

A story: Twelve-year-old Chasity really wanted to race micro-sprints, and her dad was all about it. Her mom disagreed: “That’s not the type of thing my daughter is going to do; it’s too dangerous for a little girl.” That girl never raced, lost interest. The end.

Why? This type of mentality benefits no one. It pigeonholes all people into a defined role that was assigned to us based purely on – our genitals? Because one physical attribute somehow impacts every aspect of our personalities and our existence. Gotta love it when people assume things about you based on something so completely inconsequential and unrelated. Speaking of…what size shoe do you gentlemen wear? Uh-huh, pretty dumb, right?

“The first painter I ever worked for told me, ‘You don’t look like someone who would do this job – you don’t look like a dyke.’ He kept fumbling to get his foot out of his mouth, but he was basically saying I couldn’t do this job unless I at least LOOKED like a man.”

Chasidy & Jayme’s Reaction

Chasidy reaction:

What the hell does a female automotive professional look like? What does a man in automotive look like? My appearance – no person’s appearance – defines who they are! Don’t assume you know who I am just because you see a pair of tits! Next – dyke?! 1. Did you mean lesbian? Why was it necessary to use the most derogatory term possible? 2. Since when does someone’s sexual preferences have any impact on the career they choose or their ability to perform the functions of that career? 3. What does a lesbian look like? Other than a woman? I know “butch” lesbians – I also know “butch” breeders. Same goes for women of the femme fatale variety. But again, I ask – what the fuck does that have to do with anything in the workplace?! With all the bullshit going on in our world, let’s stop wasting energy on judging people by the way they look.

We already know the language used was unacceptable, as was the implication that a masculine appearance is necessary to skillfully perform the tasks demanded by any job. So, let’s look at this from another perspective: that painter.

First impressions matter, and by introducing yourself in this way, it’s unlikely to yield favorable results, meaning that you probably won’t have a great relationship with this person. Does that matter? Maybe, maybe not. But you won’t know if you don’t give them a chance by getting to know them before you decide what they’re worth!

The Mean Girl Myth: I’m not the most confident woman, but when I was younger, I was particularly insecure. That insecurity caused me to feel that I was constantly being judged, and it made me particularly uncomfortable around women because I incessantly compared myself to them. If a friend introduced me to a beautiful, smart woman, I automatically shut down and refused to befriend them – in my head, they had already found me unworthy to associate with them, so I acted accordingly. Through my actions, I essentially became the Mean Girl that I internally accused them of being. As a result, they were repelled by my attitude and actions, and I never got a chance to find out whether we had anything in common. I shut down God-only-knows-how-many opportunities to make some potentially great connections because I was afraid of what they thought of me. I still struggle with this at times, but when I catch myself being unpleasant to someone I don’t really know, I try to take a step back, walk away for a few minutes, and evaluate whether I’m reacting to something they did or my own internal bias.

The unfortunate truth is that everyone succumbs to stereotyping someone else at some point, and although a thought isn’t a word, isn’t an action, it can become hurtful words or unkind actions if left unchecked. Stereotyping doesn’t just affect what you think about people; it also directly correlates with how you treat them. And if you aren’t careful, stereotyping can become a gateway leading to outright discrimination. The only way to prevent that is by confronting your thoughts, your bias. And if you aren’t sure whether you are reacting to the stereotype or the person, there are a lot of resources you can access to learn more.

“During tech school, my instructor constantly made comments like, ‘A woman is only good for one thing,’ and when a guy in class was degrading me, the instructor told me, ‘Don’t worry – that wouldn’t bother you if you were in the place you belong… doing my laundry, cleaning the house, and making me food.’ Like a lot of other women [in this industry], I’m not easily offended, but I’d never felt more belittled in my life – and over the thing I love most in this world, no less!”

Chasidy & Jayme’s Reaction

Chasidy reaction:

What the actual fuck. Why does some random ass person get to decide where SHE belongs?! Yeah, ok – Dick. Good luck with that. Make your own sammich. Honestly, it’s probably safer that way – for multiple reasons. Also, also, also… a woman is only good for ONE thing?! One? (Ignoring his later claim regarding the three things she should be good at…) Do you know a single person, seriously, who is only good for ONE thing? I know some that aren’t good for a damn thing, but that could be a series of its own.

We’re going to come back to the whole “gender role” issue being imposed here, so hang tight. For now, let’s focus on the fact that this happened in school. We all know that the automotive and skilled labor trades industries have evolved into highly technical fields, falling under the category of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math). Historically, women have been excluded from and discounted in STEM fields, despite having made significant contributions. In 2017, women held only 29% of STEM occupational positions, and as of 2018, women in STEM fields were paid only 80.7% of their male counterparts’ earnings (source).

“I had one driver straight up refuse to let me work on his trailer because I ‘should be at home cooking dinner.’ When trying to get authorized for a repair and telling the company that I was the tech-on-location THREE times, the guy still asked when someone could be there to make the repairs! Some drivers just stare at me, but I actually caught one standing next to his truck, jacking off! Any time I’ve had an issue that couldn’t be ignored, my boss has always had my back.”

Chasidy & Jayme’s Reaction

Chasidy reaction:

HAHAHAHAHA. OK guys, gals, clowns & politicians. Let me be the first to admit – my place is NOT at home cooking dinner. Not at all. I’ve burned boiled eggs. Literally, burnt them. I may like to consider myself a goddess (alone, in the privacy of my home), but I’m sure as shit not a domestic one! Which is why I hate this assumption – why am I less of a woman because I don’t have culinary skills? HelloFresh! And to the guy randomly yanking on his manhood in public, no one wants to see that! Not her, not the guy in the truck next to you or the kid in the car passing on the road. Have some dignity and class. Shit.

It’s 2021. Women make up half of the workforce, yet that half of the population is typically expected to launder the clothes, fix the meals, and take care of the household – after working all day. Women are consistently placed in the role of caregiver (actually the example in a basic “stereotype” search on Google). And we admit: A lot of women step into that role. Women tend to be natural caregivers for the benefit of the family, the community.

But many men are also nurturing and loving. It’s funny how that never gets mentioned, isn’t it? They coach softball, they volunteer at foodbanks, and they love their families. Men feel a wide range of emotions, just like women. Unfortunately, stereotypes cut both ways, so because women are seen as being overly emotional, a man expressing his emotions is seen as “womanly.” (Sidenote folks: I’m pretty sure assuming “womanly” is an insult is a mistake – how could you NOT want to be compared to these badass women and so many others?!)

Another of those stereotypes: “Boys will be boys.” Typically thrown out as an excuse for when boys (or men) are being violent, callous, engaging in “locker room talk” (*cough – misogyny – cough*)… Isn’t it a little demeaning to be told that you have no control over your actions, that your behavior is biologically programmed because you’re packing a penis? Especially when scientists say that the differences between the male and female brain are nominal at best (source)

Badass Women

“When I reached for food during an employee lunch, the guys told me, ‘We don’t want dick-grabbers in everyone’s food!’ I walked away to avoid the situation, but they called me back in and yelled at me for not putting the food away – I didn’t even eat anything, and when I started to get upset, they yelled at me: ‘Wanna go fucking cry about it? How ‘bout you go cry about it?’ Yeah, that’s when I lost it and yelled back which didn’t end well. I waited the rest of the day for an apology. Turns out they flipped the story when they told the owner. Apparently, I was ‘in a bad mood today… she just freaked out on everyone for no reason.’ Well, the owner had audio surveillance, and my story was the one that checked out. The guys involved did seriously apologize, and we’re good now. But it still happened.”

Chasidy & Jayme’s Reaction

Chasidy reaction:
Dick-grabbers – really, like we’re 12?! I have so many questions. Why would you choose to insult your own penis? How can she be a dick grabber: Aren’t all female auto pros lesbians – or is that only when it suits your narrative? Do you control our sexuality now, too, day by day?! Why was she supposed to put the food away? Why isn’t she allowed to be upset? Why do you assume she’s going to cry? Why can’t she be angry for your actions instead of blaming it on her “bad mood?” If she was in Moodsville, it’s because you drove her there! On the plus side, kudos on the resolution. It seems like the folks in this situation actually learned something productive and healthy.

Female automotive professionals report hearing demeaning comments on a frequent basis. Of survey participants (source), 83.82% reported hearing demeaning comments at least occasionally from male colleagues and 66.21% from female colleagues; 70% of them noted that clients and colleagues do not make eye contact with them, though that courtesy is given to male professionals.

Again, women are judged for being emotional, but if someone is insulted, why aren’t they allowed to have a negative reaction? A lot of times, women are accused of overreacting, but is she really overreacting – or is she reacting to an overwhelming amount of bullshit? She probably doesn’t react to every single slight. Instead, she lets it build. And build. And build.

Until it overflows. (Yes, we know there are times when people do overreact, especially during tense situations. We’ll provide some tips in What Can You Do?) And as uncomfortable as men can be when a woman cries, they’re even less comfortable when she’s angry. Yet men can be angry – they just can’t cry. 🤦

“The head painter at my second job always had it out for me. I guess he thought I would like him when I started working there, so when I didn’t, he took his anger out on me, constantly yelling at me and calling me a complaining bitch. Once, he tried to get me fired for not painting a part he’d requested – except he hadn’t given me the paint that he had to specially tint himself. It went on until he decided he wanted to sleep with me and started flirting. I had to shut that down several times before he finally started acting right, but he eventually quit, and now I get along with everyone!”

Chasidy & Jayme’s Reaction

Chasidy reaction:
Why are women constantly attacked for – IDK – speaking, breathing, existing? The internet is rife with information about how female leaders can communicate to ensure they aren’t perceived as pushy – gems like saying, “I’m just thinking out loud here” instead of “I have an idea.” Or don’t tell an employee “This has to be done Monday” – try “What do you think about getting this done Monday?” Um… I think it had better be done Monday if that’s when it needs to be done so I don’t really care what you think about my assertiveness. Why should a “boss” be anything other than “bossy?” Oh! Can someone please tell me why successful women are always called “ball-busters?” No Boss-ass Babe is concerned about busting your balls – or doing anything else with them, buddy. She’s busy. Making money, making decisions, and making moves. Get. On. Her. Level. (Speaking to myself here too!)

Words have power ( said the writer) – they can build you up or break you down. And the words used to describe people’s actions tend to vary, depending on that individual’s gender. While the definitions are typically similar when you compare the words, the implied meaning is different.

A man who takes control is assertive, has leadership qualities. When a woman takes control, she’s bossy, pushy, aggressive, bitchy. Men “share their views” when they disagree with you; women complain, nag or bitch.

Women in the automotive industry share these experiences: 68.11% have been called “too aggressive,” 50.12% have been accused of being “too quiet,” 62.24% were “too bossy,” and 61.03% have been told they were “too emotional” at least once (source).

The behavior is the same, so why are the words different? These word choices send a subliminal message: They chastise women for expressing their opinions; they demand female silence.

OK, what is the second Dirty Little Secret?

People judge other people. There’s no way around it. But let’s try judging people on how they treat other people, on their actions – the person who shouldn’t be an automotive technician is the person who is incompetent at the job, not the person who happens to have a vagina. (Preview for next week: Those two people are not necessarily the same!)

Seriously, stereotyping does such a depressing disservice to the individuality within each person, and it completely disregards the complexity of humanity – people are multi-faceted, they aren’t made to fit in a box – and if they do, they get to choose the box where they belong. Each person has many interests, but that interest isn’t dictated by what’s found below their belt, who they take to bed, or the color of their skin.

Stereotyping is also dangerous. Your belief about a person influences what you think about them, how you feel about them, and ultimately, how you treat them. If left unchecked, stereotyping transforms into a stepping stone, creating a path to discrimination and bigotry.

What can you do?

There are many ways to learn more about the harmful impacts of stereotyping in the workplace and in your personal lives, but it really all starts with communication.

In stressful situations, take a deep breath. Listen. Walk away if you need to. Accept your feelings, but control your tongue. Obviously, this is easier said than done, so it’d be better if men and women prevented some of those tense situations in the first place – which is entirely possible with general respect and human decency!

Men: When you hear something, say something; unacceptable comments are just that – unacceptable – whether they’re made to a woman or a man! Silence speaks volumes, and by failing to discourage such behavior, you send the implied message that you condone it, or at least don’t mind it. Call it out; it’s safer for you than for women to stand up for themselves. Even if you’re an awesome dude who would never treat women as “less than,” make sure your team knows it’s unacceptable, and then hold them to that standard. Talk to your friends, peers, associations, industry leaders – misogynists like the ones encountered by the ladies we quote throughout this series ARE out there, scaring potential talent away because “It’s a man’s world, baby!”

Women: See above… and support one another! Don’t participate in the stereotypical comments and backbiting – tearing another woman down does not increase your value. Women tell each other to have a sense of humor, to toughen up, to blow it off. But aren’t we sick of it yet?! Ignoring it is enabling it. It’s time to call it out and shut it down – whether the offender is male or female. Every time you accept those shitty actions, you’re telling them that it’s okay, that boys will be boys, that all women are “mean girls”… Stop accepting bad behavior merely because stereotyping predicts that’s all you can expect from people!


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!