I've dropped my car off at the dealership three times since I bought it a month ago. Because the car is defective? No. Because when I speak, the mechanic doesn't pay attention. Worse the latest drop off was in the morning, and the only person there was some asshole mechanic who seemed very pissed off that he had the task of taking my keys from me. He told me I was early and “you’re lucky I’m even here.” He then told me that I should be grateful and should thank him.
Thank you for filling me with enough rage to write this article.
After that exchange he spoke to me like I was a vapid little girl who didn't know anything about cars. Admittedly I don't know much about cars, but I'm not a little girl! This is exactly the kind of interaction that makes me dread calling the mechanic and bringing my car in by myself. When driving I’m confident, I've got a driving record so clean you could eat off it and respect the speed limit within reason, but god forbid I merge when someone in the lane doesn't want to tip tap their brakes. An hour long honk ensues followed by a violent lane change, pounding gas pedal, the deepest look into the drivers side and suddenly their curiosity is satiated, a woman driver. This sucks. it sucks feeling this way, it sucks getting spoken down to by a mechanic or car salesman, it sucks when you look up female mechanics and google provides you with sexy halloween costume ideas.
Women are stereotyped in every way when it comes to cars, even though the evidence that women are better drivers are clear in that insurance companies charge more if the driver is a male. After all, it was a woman who invented turn signals, women that Henry Ford hired for his assembly line, women who were more than happy to be the country's mechanics in wartime, and a woman ( the Queen who is also a mechanic) to jump in the drivers seat when leader of Saudi Arabia wanted to tour the windy and narrow grounds of Buckingham Palace.
The idea that women are somehow less-than behind the wheel, is absurd considering the history of ladies in the drivers' seat. “Women shouldn’t be treated like second class citizens in any business. The automotive industry is a boys' club, so it can be hard for women to feel comfortable at auto shops,” said Audra Fordin is a woman who owns her own mechanic shop and founded the company Woman Auto Know, whose goal is to keep woman savvy about cars and break through that glass moonroof.
Audra found that women are ready for the chance to learn more about cars.
“In the Great Recession of 2008, a lot of my customers lost their jobs. The New York community was struggling financially. Business went on the decline and that was why. People started taking public transportation instead of driving.
To bring people to my shop, I hosted free auto awareness workshops for women. They were a hit. I collected donations from area businesses and workshop attendees. We used the funds to repair cars for single working moms, who couldn't afford repairs.” she said.
It's time women stop being treated like they still have a learners' permit and stick to the mechanics' boy's club. Next time you pull up to the mechanics or get some serious side eye from a disgruntled driver on the highway just remember women have been kicking automotive ass since the very beginning.
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Courtney Bissonette is a New York based writer and improv comedienne. She writes primarily about movies, pop cultures and feminist heroes. She gets along best with old people. She has seen more old movies than your grandma, probably. Salt from Salt n Pepa once took her Trick'r Treating. You can follow her on instagram at @gddamnitcourtney or twitter @courttette