Challenging Gender Stereotypes in the Auto Industry

Women represent fewer than one-quarter of the automotive workers in the U.S., even though they make up almost half of the US Labor Force, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

An auto clinic in Madison, Wisconsin is teaching high school girls to defy those gender stereotypes in the auto industry. 

Wilde East Towne Honda and Dane County School Consortium (DCSC) are hosting the clinic to educate and empower the girls to consider a career field typically dominated by men.

“We’ve known for a while that women can do it,’ Matt Baumgartner, DCSC instructor, said. “The basis is to get them started, get them interested and give it a try.”

Baumgartner says the auto industry is struggling to find skilled labor in trades.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there will be more than 37,000 job openings in the auto industry on an average year by 2024, which is a lot of potential job opportunities for women. 

The goal of the girls clinic is to open that new door of opportunity for women. Baumgarter says he sees the wheels turning as the young women learn how to change tires, oil, and gender roles.

“It’s crazy actually because you’d never think a girl could work on a car. That’s what people think,” Taylor Mccollum, Cambridge High School Junior said. “I learned how to change the oil on a car and then I went home that night and changed my oil.”

Ashley Fuller, a Wilde East Towne Honda Apprentice, says she took the apprentice job hoping to drive change and to encourage more women to join her.

“It’s said to be a man’s job, but women can do it just fine,” Fuller said.

The 17-year-old, Sun Prairie High School Senior, has been working on cars from a young age with her dad.

“I think if you really enjoy it you should follow your dreams and not be discouraged if it’s a ‘man’s job.’ If you want to do it, go for it,” Fuller said.

Works Cited:

NBC 15, Girls Auto Clinic Aims to Empower Women, Change Stereotypes (February 12, 2020)

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, Household Data Annual Averages (2020)