Part 1-Resources: Dirty Little Secrets of the Automotive and Skilled Trades Industries

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.

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.

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!

Lack of Resources & Support in the Workplace: Women Aren’t Really That Unique

Part 1 of 5

Hey Sue, let’s grab lunch,” Tom suggested to his former classmate and current co-worker. Sue and Tom were friends; they’d studied together, obtained the same degree, and started working at ABC Automotive exactly two years ago. Although some of the other guys picked on Sue constantly, Tom respected her skills – back in school, she had won several regional competitions and always scored the best grades in class.

“I can’t afford to take care of my family on $12 an hour.” Tom confided that he was looking for a different job. Imagine his surprise when Sue informed him that she had been hired at an hourly rate of $15! Tom’s mouth opened in shock: “I can’t believe they’re paying you more than me – whose dick did you suck?!”

OK, first off, let’s be extremely honest here: The likelihood that Sue would make more than Tom, regardless of her talents, is pretty damn slim (and the likelihood that a BJ could get her that type of raise is even more doubtful) – but let’s look at the big picture.

Remember how 45% of surveyed automotive women said they’d move to a different industry if they were starting their careers today? Although a lack of diversity, equity and inclusion was the top reason they cited, work/life balance and lack of promotion opportunities rounded out the three most frequent reasons they’d leave (source).

In comparison, men’s top three reasons were work/life balance, low income, and poor working relationships. Low income, lack of promotion opportunities – that’s pretty aligned! And if you think about reasons DEI is so important to women – well, a lack of DEI sure doesn’t help our working relationships… So, really, aren’t men and women asking for the same things?

In fact, most of the resources women desire are the essentials that should be provided in any career: competitive pay, PTO, health insurance, and short-term disability insurance. Women are also looking for the opportunity to grow and develop their skills and to advance in an organization (preferably without being accused of trading sexual favors – those are not women’s only talents, thank ya very much!).

Creating a culture that promotes diversity will help the automotive and skilled labor trades industry improve the way it’s viewed by women. As we explore some of the utter horse manure that our ladies in automotive have been forced to contend with, step into the storyteller’s shoes and imagine this happening in your career –

Would you find the “status quo” acceptable?

“But men have families to support, they’re the breadwinners, they’re the…” It’s 2021, fellas. Women have families to support too, and the ladies are also just as apt to bring home the bacon – which tastes a lot better when someone else cooks it, amiright?

The fact that 25% of women earn less than men doing the exact same job is appalling (source). In the recollection above, the difference was only 75 cents an hour, but looking at it proportionately – if a man made $30/hour, a woman would only make $27.30. That’s over $100 weekly – would you be able to pay all your bills if $400 of your income was stolen every month?

And women earning more doesn’t just benefit women; it benefits men too!

“After graduating with my Automotive Collision Refinishing certification, I landed my first body shop job in January 2011 – detailing cars for $8.25 an hour. During my interview, they questioned whether I was in a relationship; they didn’t want to hire a single woman who might cause problems by sleeping with the technicians. I also found out my male co-worker, who was still taking classes to achieve his certification, was making $9 an hour, 75 cents more than me! They eventually gave me a raise… but the damn audacity of even mentioning my relationship status and thinking they could get away with screwing me hourly – it was a slap in the face.”

Chasidy & Jayme’s Reaction

Chasidy’s Reaction:  Ok, I had to Google it, I just had to – found a lot about how women (and men) are perceived differently by employers based on whether they’re married, but nothing about how marriage impacts their actual ability to perform their jobs to a high standard – can you believe it?! Seriously, if you’re that worried about your employees sleeping together, you probably shouldn’t hire single men either. Or you could just castrate them all – like you did to this woman’s paycheck!

“Equal pay isn’t just a women’s issue; when women get equal pay,their family incomes rise and the whole family benefits.”

Of course, that one manager asking her about her marital status is problematic, but at least it’s not widespread, right?

Uh… Think again. Over 50% of surveyed female automotive professionals reported being questioned about her family life, marital status or children during the interview process (source).

Although federal law does not explicitly prohibit discrimination based on marital status, it’s generally viewed as a sex discrimination matter. According to the EEOC, “Questions about marital status and number and ages of children are frequently used to discriminate against women… It is clearly discriminatory to ask such questions only of women and not men (or vice-versa).” Additionally, more than half of the individual States have passed laws prohibiting familial discrimination (source).

“A week after being hired, the shop owner told me he’d hesitated to hire me because he was afraid of being forced to deal with sexual harassment reporting. He didn’t doubt I could do my job, but he was worried about the possibility of his current guys harassing me in some way. He didn’t want to risk being fined or forced to fire his guys. He acted like it was completely logical, but it pissed me off that I nearly didn’t get a job because he wasn’t sure his guys could act like decent human beings. They only hired me because the other applicants had little to no experience. Eventually, someone with experience applied, and since he was willing to work for a dollar less than I made, they hired him as a painter, downgraded me to a prepper, and docked my pay $5 an hour. I left that week.”

Chasidy & Jayme’s Reaction

Chasidy’s Reaction: But, but, but…Why are women constantly held responsible for men’s bad behavior? How is it HER fault if they MIGHT harass her? If her mere presence excuses the way they act, that dynamic should work both ways, right? So if someone’s face offends me, I’m completely justified in throat-punching them?! Sounds totally rational to me! ???? (In case you couldn’t HEAR my eyes rolling)

Yep, you read that right! An employer’s decision about hiring someone was nearly impacted by the POSSIBILITY of someone else’s poor behavior. Is that a consideration for hiring all employees?

The concept of penalizing one person for someone else’s actions – well, I don’t think any of us would enjoy working in that type of environment! From a business perspective, if this employer hadn’t grown a pair, he would have missed out on a qualified employee in favor of employees with questionable behavior. Does that seem like sound business logic to you?

This scenario provides one clear example of the prevalence of gender discrimination in the industry. Unless this manager would have hesitated to hire a man for fear of sexual harassment, this is an obvious violation of the intent behind Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which protects employees from discrimination based on certain specified characteristics: race, color, national origin, sex, and religion.

Sharing the reasons for his indecision was even more insulting – he should have been worried about the possibility of someone else snagging a qualified candidate given the ongoing tech shortage! As you’ll hear next week, some people are more timid than others, and this woman could have easily decided that an automotive career wasn’t worth the hassle. We’re concerned… are you?

No matter your gender, being demoted with a pay reduction because someone else is willing to do your job cheaper – well, that’s pretty damn insulting, infuriating and an awful business practice if you’re looking to retain long-term employees (which increases your ROI). On average, female mechanics make nearly $5,000 less than men each year (source) as it is! But there’s another resource in this story that must be addressed. We can all agree that employees need training – that’s mandatory, especially in an industry that advances as frequently as automotive.

Sexual harassment training is just another type of training that is essential these days. Different states have varying requirements, and as an employer, you have to CYA (“cover your ass”).

For example, New Jersey does not require sexual harassment training for employees in the private sector; however, “in 2002 (Gaines v. Bellino) the New Jersey Supreme Court held that state courts should consider whether or not an employer made training available to supervisors and all employees when deciding whether or not an employer had been negligent in preventing sexual harassment under state law (source).”

Beyond that, we’re going to skip right over that whole “sexual harassment thing” for now – it’s probably a good idea for us to get a little better acquainted before diving into that nightmarish topic (and the completely justified violence of our reactions), but stay tuned for that installment later this month! (series schedule)

“When the owner introduced me to the other techs during a job interview, the lead tech (who would be TRAINING me!) said, “You know this is a man’s world, and you don’t belong here, right?” – Right in front of the boss. Who said nothing. I was speechless. I was hired, but the lead tech refused to teach me anything, and six months later, he quit because he “didn’t like where the shop’s headed.””

Chasidy & Jayme’s Reaction

Chasidy’s Reaction: They’re lucky she was speechless! You know who shouldn’t have been speechless, though? Hey boss man – this was a perfect opportunity to be an advocate for change, a hero, a REAL MAN by simply telling your employee, “Hey man, that’s not cool and doesn’t belong here.” Wow, how easy is that?

The automotive industry is NOT a man’s world, yet it sure seems geared that way! Men and women may be equally capable, but they are different biologically in some ways.

Let’s start with the obvious – our shape. Surprise! Women are built differently than men. Women have curves (and you’re welcome). But they are also built differently than one another. A large portion of female automotive workers are unable to wear standard uniforms because – you guessed it – they weren’t made for women! And when uniforms are specially made for women, they never provide any pocket space< em>(????for those of you who’ve never worn women’s pants, the pockets typically possess space for precisely two Mentos and one migraine pill – which you’ll need if the “pocket” is really just a stitch that doesn’t even open. Like seriously? Who thought of that one, and what drugs were they on? I digress…).

Women are also typically smaller than men, so items like PPE should be ordered in multiple sizes. Then there’s stature – on average, women are shorter than men. Step stools are low-cost investments that allow women (and our vertically challenged brethren!) to reach things easily.

Thanks to tons of testosterone, men tend to be physically stronger than women as well – one of the factors that made the automotive and skilled labor trades industries prohibitive in the past. Luckily, modern manufacturers create tools and equipment to some of the job’s heavyweight activities less strenuous – neither the women nor the men that work in the shop need to break their backs!

“My trainer, who occupied the bay next to mine, called me a cunt – for no reason. I was obviously frustrated, but when I told the boss I wanted to swap bays, he told me, “We can’t rearrange the shop every time you have a bitchfit.” When I got pissed off about that, he told me to “go bleed already.” I reported him to the owner, and my bay got swapped, but eventually I just couldn’t handle the environment anymore, so I quit.”

Chasidy & Jayme’s Reaction

Chasidy’s Reaction:  What the… OK, I’m not even offended by “cunt,” but it’s also never been thrown at me during a stressful workday! And I’d show him some blood –pouring out of his disrespectful mouth! (Y’all, I swear I’m not actually violent, but I absolutely fantasize about violence when I read these horror stories.) I can’t even imagine how unacceptable it’d be to joke about periods if men suffered them – every. single. month. Seriously, have you noticed how y’all deal with a little cold?

Toilet humor is always funny, at least to our inner 12-year-olds, but the bathroom situation in most automotive facilities is no laughing matter! Often, only men’s restrooms are available in the actual shop, leaving female technicians with a distance to hike, just to drop a deuce. Or if it’s a one-stall, gender-neutral bathroom, it’s filthy and stinky.(Seriously, what do y’all eat?! And no, it’s not her job to clean it.)

Another note: Women’s restrooms should be stocked with feminine hygiene products – that’s as essential as toilet paper, soap and paper towels. Air freshener would help as well – especially in a unisex restroom where everyone has to smell each other’s stankasses. (Ladies – this applies to you too; no one wants to sit on dried blood, so clean up after yourself. And this should go without saying, but stop flushing hygiene products and clogging the plumbing.)

There’s also a notable trend of women who struggle to advance in their careers or who are completely unable to do so. Over 40% of women in the automotive industry believe they’ve missed out on career advancement opportunities due to gender – “Women have been told they are not up for promotions because they have children and are therefore not able to commit enough time to the job. Or they’re told managers have fears that the woman soon will become pregnant and decide to leave the company, and so she won’t be considered for a promotion (source).”

For 64% of women (compared to 40% of men), the opportunity for career progression is extremely important, yet 70% of women believe minorities are underrepresented in leadership, and 91% believe the lack of leadership diversity results from industry bias towards men (source).

Leadership diversity is awesome for companies, though! “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% more likely to outperform on profitability when in the top quartile for gender diversity (source).” Sounds like there’s some missed opportunity when businesses fail to incorporate DE&I!

A supervisor wouldn’t allow me to pick up my 4-year-old son before daycare closed. “Can’t you just call him a cab or something?” Then he sighed and muttered, “Men don’t have this problem.”

Chasidy & Jayme’s Reaction

Chasidy’s Reaction: Men don’t have this problem?! As in men don’t have children or they would send them home in a cab – or is it possibly more likely that mothers are more likely to take on this responsibility? I know a lot of fathers, and I don’t know a single one that would put their child in a damn taxi. As a parent, whether you’re a mother or a father, your child is your top priority. We are biologically programmed to take care of our young! And someone who doesn’t is probably a shitty person. So unless all of your employees are shitty people (and why would you do that?), it sure appears that there’s a gap here that needs to be explored as an industry. That phrase, that really important requirement for men AND women to be happier at work… Um…

Let’s backtrack and recap really quick – what was the one shared reason between men and women on why they’d choose a different career industry again? Exactly, work/life balance, and this resource is HUGE.

Face it: The J.O.B. is always going to come second to your employees’ family – and that’s the way it SHOULD be! Your business is your baby, but it’s not theirs. But when you show some consideration for the things that matter to them, your humanity boosts morale, and happy employees are better, more productive employees.

Childcare is a major concern, especially outside standard work hours – sound familiar? What if employers partnered with local daycare providers to provide low-cost after-hours care for employees’ children in exchange for discounted services? Or maybe hire a local college student to watch the whole group after hours on certain days?

Maybe that sounds insane, but let’s think about why people work in the first place. Yeah, hopefully you enjoy the way that you earn your paycheck, but do you really do it simply for the sheer joy of working your ass off every day? Pretty sure no one would work 40+ hours each week WITHOUT the income. Most of us are doing what’s necessary to provide for our families – but wouldn’t we also like to enjoy the few spare hours that are allotted to us?

Flexible schedules would allow workers to run out during the day and work late – maybe for a dentist appointment, maybe to attend a child’s chorus performance, but without judgment. Plenty of shops and other businesses have benefitted from allowing technicians to work four 10-hour shifts with great results – after all, a happy employee is a productive employee. By showing that you care about their other priorities, you’re increasing morale and creating an environment where employees want to work; you’re developing a culture they want to be part of.

But since we’re on the subject of families, let’s touch on some related topics. Pregnancy discrimination is illegal. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act forbids “discrimination based on pregnancy when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, such as leave and health insurance, and any other term or condition of employment.”

With this in mind, a lot of folks get really hung up on women needing maternity leave. Maternity leave is just one small bullet point under the whole umbrella of short-term disability insurance, which covers women AND men when they’re out of work for a temporary disability, such as non-job-related injury or illness – including pregnancy (Including one thing does not equate to excluding another). Short-term disability insurance belongs in every benefit package, right alongside health insurance, paid time off and retirement savings.

OK, what is the first Dirty Little Secret

All employees in the automotive and skilled labor trades industries deserve fair compensation, time off, medical insurance, and short-term disability ─ at a bare minimum. Employers also owe them respect, training to help advance their skills, and the ability to progress at work in terms of promotions and raises.

A lack of resources is a major problem that impacts all employees, not just women. The desire for health insurance isn’t unique to women. The need for diversity in leadership isn’t unique to women. The objection to a lack of equity in compensation doesn’t only affect women. And the lack of inclusion hurts men just as much as it hurts women because it divides us, but by combining forces to demand these benefits that are well-deserved, our voices are louder. We are stronger together.

What can you do?

First and foremost, keep asking for these basic needs from your employer and help push the industry as whole to solve this problem! You deserve it!


This website offers a variety of virtual harassment training webinars as well as other HR resources.
If you’re experiencing pay discrimination, you can find information on how to file a complaint here.
These companies offer female-friendly work clothing options.

Resources & Support in the Workplace
With McCeil Johnson

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.

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 (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! #METOO

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.”

Women’s Intuition (FAQs)

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!