This is, perhaps, one of the cleverest hashtags I’ve ever seen, and Patrice Banks is to thank. This Philadelphia native went from a childhood without a family vehicle, her family utilized buses, to the owner of Girls Auto Clinic (GAC) in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. GAC employs a number of female mechanics and offers monthly workshops geared toward women who want to learn the basics of car-care and build their car-care confidence. Whether at the GAC or during her motivational speaking engagements, Patrice shares her passion for female inclusion and empowerment in the auto industry on a regular basis.
As the December 30, 2019 issue of PEOPLE Magazine says, “Today, less than 10 percent of mechanics are women.” To which Patrice responded, “And yet, women are the number-one customers in the industry.” Patrice recognized a need, to help women become more confident users and consumers in the automotive arena, and her focused and passionate attack of that need is breaking down barriers.
Patrice isn’t the only female to enter and succeed in the male-dominated automotive field, however. A few more are:
- Mary Barra- Chair & CEO of General Motors
- Laura Schwab- President of Aston Martin the Americas
- Joy Falotico- President of The Lincoln Motor Company & Ford Chief Marketing Officer
- Tisha Johnson- Vice President-Interior Design for Volvo Group
- Helen Emsley- Executive Director of Design, Global Buick & GMC, General Motors
- Sharon Silke Carty- Editor-in-Chief of Car and Driver (magazine)
This list is a beacon of light for not only every female who ever dreamed of an automotive-related profession but also, for the females who want to enter a car dealership, oil-change business, and all other car-care and auto-related places feeling confident and competent.
Audra Fordin is another influential woman in the automotive industry. In addition to owning Great Bear Auto Repair in New York, she founded Women Auto Know (WAK). WAK connects women, and everyone, to auto shops that have taken the WAK pledge, which is a pledge to providing:
- A clean waiting area and restroom (no more restrooms that look like they haven’t been cleaned since 1976)
- A respectful environment for women and families (no more scantily-clad women on a calendar in the lobby)
- A promise to ask permission before beginning any repair (no more feeling taking advantage of)
- A full understanding of why the repair is necessary and the price (no more feeling clueless about your vehicle’s needs and the price associated with those needs)
Audra reaches over 100MM listeners a month through her participation with Autolab, a podcast where listeners ask experts automotive-related questions. She’s appeared on shows such as Steve Harvey, Good Morning America, MSNBC, ABC, 20/20, Anderson Live, Today Show, and CNN. Like Patrice, she’s dedicated her life to being a positive and forward-thinking voice in the automotive industry.
Benjamin Franklin is given credit for the phrase Do well by doing good, and I can imagine that he would’ve listed each of the above women, specifically Patrice and Audra, as examples of this phrase’s truth, had he lived today. When passion is pursued with intentional effort and barriers, such as gender, are looked at as temporary detours instead of a permanent wall, great things happen. But when those who take the detour backtrack and build a bridge so others behind them can travel forward with less stress and more momentum, that’s greatness.
Author: Evelyn Lindell