An auto clinic busting myths about women and cars | Patrice Banks | TEDxWilmingtonUniversity
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An auto clinic busting myths about women and cars | Patrice Banks | TEDxWilmingtonUniversity


Translator: Zsófia Herczeg
Reviewer: Claire Ghyselen I am a beast at parallel parking. I’ll just let you know
I live in Philadelphia. My name is Patrice Banks, and I am going to start
by sharing a personal story. So six years ago, I was an engineer
working for DuPont and it was one of those warm
summer days – kind of like today – we can’t wait to get outside
to enjoy the weather. I was really unfocused at work, thinking about what I’m going to do
on my lunch break. So I logged onto Facebook and was browsing around to pass the time, and I just posted this status: “My car needs an oil change, but I’m going to get a mani-pedi instead.” Now, I like to be silly on social media, and I thought this manicure-pedicure
status was going to get some attention and probably some pretty funny comments. I didn’t actually see the comments until I got back from the nail salon
later that afternoon, where the guys were saying: “This is why women shouldn’t drive! You’re going to be stuck on the side
of the road with a blown engine.” Of course, my ladies
came to the rescue by saying: “At least she’d look cute
on the side of the road while she’s waiting for a guy to help her
or thumbing it for a ride.” My 28-year-old self thought
that this was funny. My 30-year-old self thought
this was genius. At 30, I called myself an auto airhead. Because I was. I struggled to lift the hood of my car. I was “turn the key and go.” Because of this, I did
minimum service on my car. I waited until the last minute to do repairs. I would panic any time
something would go wrong. I felt taken advantage of by mechanics. And I would rather get my nails done
than protect a 25,000-dollar asset. And it’s no secret that this is the state
of many women and their cars today: auto-airheads, just like me. But it reflects on how we feel
about the automotive industry. Up to 77% of women feel
misunderstood by automakers and taken advantage of by mechanics. And we are. We’re guarded with our car-buying
and repair decisions, right? We think, “Is this real?” “Do I really need this?” “Does it cost this much money,
or am I being taken advantage of?” And we think, “I have a husband
or a brother or a father to help me so I am not taken advantage of.” But listen, men don’t know a lot
about this stuff either. The other day,
I was coming out of the gym, and I saw two guys
trying to jump-start a car. And they were doing it wrong. I so badly wanted to go up
to them and say, “Hey, guys! Can I help you?” But I understand
how fragile the male ego is, so I quietly passed them by. But the realization for women
in their cars today is this: We are overwhelmed
with simple maintenance tasks, we feel taken advantage of by mechanics, and we often make poor buying
decisions with our cars. I started searching for a female mechanic
to help me and to share. And surprisingly my search came up empty. I don’t need statistics to tell me
what I already knew. I need an education, and so do
millions of women out there. I couldn’t find a female
mechanic, so I became one. And I went back to school
for automotive technology and started creating
a vision for a company that educates and empowers women
through their cars. And who better to teach you
than an auto-airhead turned auto-tech? And guess what, ladies? We are the number one customer
in the automotive industry. Women buy more than half
of all new cars in the United States. And we influence
up to 80% of car purchases. Also, did you know that 67% of auto service
and maintenance work is requested by women? So, we buy more cars than men. We take our cars in
for repairs more than men. And for the first time
in history, a study shows that women hold more driver’s licenses
than men across all age groups. So that means there are more
women drivers than men. Does that scare you, guys? (Laughter) More women drivers on the road? Well, it’s here. Women spend 200 billion dollars a year
on buying and repairing their cars. So why do we have this huge disconnect
between women and the automotive industry? I believe it’s because there are virtually
no women that work in this industry. Less than 2% of mechanics
and technicians are women. And less than 7% of auto dealership service advisers, salespeople and managers
combined are women. Even though we prefer a female mechanic
or female car salesmen. So my question is this: Why do we have so many women drivers and so few female mechanics
and car saleswomen? Well, in my three-year journey so far
in the automotive industry, I have found that almost every single
woman will face discrimination because of her sex. Big surprise, right? But it’s blatant. And I want to give you an example
of a recent experience of mine. I was hired to go
to a technical high school to speak to an automotive class about what it means to be a woman
in the automotive industry. The class was all boys,
about 40 students, and they didn’t believe
that I was a mechanic. They challenged me with questions
to test my car knowledge. They asked to see my hands. They told me I was a distraction. Imagine a 15-year-old girl
who enjoys cars, loves cars, wants to work on them,
enters into this field. Five years from now, she is going to be looking
for a job from one of these guys. Needless to say, they got
an earful from me that day. But my point is, there is very little support
for women in the automotive industry for career growth and development, especially in car-buying and repair. Women get discouraged and frustrated. We are often the first ones
to be laid off. Or we drop out and go
into an entirely different profession. And because of that, the industry
does not reflect its number-one customer. It is heavily dominated by men, who may or may not be trying
to understand the emotional need that drives a woman to buy a car
or approve a repair service. The bottom line is this: women feel mistreated
and misunderstood by this industry because there are so few women
who work in it. And it is important that women are included
in the entire automotive process: from concept, design, and manufacturing
to sales and repair. Women should be empowered
to enter this industry and given tools and support
for career growth and development. So, two years after I could not find
a female mechanic, I created Girls Auto Clinic. And Girls Auto Clinic offers
automotive buying and repair services based on trust, education,
inclusion, and empowerment. It is my mission to disrupt
the automotive industry by catering to my number one
customer: women. And I want to make history
with Girls Auto Clinic. Not just by creating a community
of car-savvy women but by creating opportunities for women to sit at the table in this industry
across all levels. Whether they want to be technicians,
salespeople, managers, engineers, or CEOs, like Mary Barra of GM. So now, today at 34, I want to reach every woman driver
in the United States. Each woman who operates a car should have: a good education of how her car works
and how to maintain it, a mechanic that she trusts, and she should feel confident
about her car-buying choices. I want women to own their cars, and owning it means knowing it. Girls Auto Clinic empowers women
to know their cars, no longer fear the mechanic
or panic when something goes wrong. I educate women by hosting
free car care workshops, where you’ll learn
how to care of your car, how to talk to a mechanic
and what to do in an emergency. The workshops are designed
to be interactive and fun and women leave feeling confident to handle any issues
with their car that may arise. If you can’t attend a workshop
or for car tips on the go, I’ve also written a book for women called: “The Girls Auto Clinic Glove Box Guide.” It fits in your glove box, and you’ll reference it for things
like dashboard lights: What do they mean?
Should I panic? Can I ignore it? Or how often am I supposed
to change my oil? It’s no longer 3,000 miles
or every three months. And my personal favorite: “Do I really need that air filter
the mechanic tells me I need every time I go in for an oil change?” The glove box guide includes tires, belts,
fluids and a lot of great information; there’s pictures, tips; it’s going to help you save money
and stay safe on the road. Then I also blog car tips on my website
that women get a kick out of because they’re relatable,
it’s everyday language, and no over your head technical talk. So for example, one title is: “Does your car have boogies?”
where we talk about air filters. Another, if you think of your engine, and this is a fan favorite. Think of your engine like a vagina. Can anyone tell me
the main purpose of engine oil? Spit, spit it out. Anyone know? Lubricate, yes! So, you don’t need to understand
the four-stroke engine but you need to know
that your engine needs oil. Your engine has fast moving parts
rubbing up and down working hard to make your car go. What happens when you have
fast moving parts rubbing up and down with no lubrication? You ever noticed
when you need an oil change, your car runs a little rough and as soon as you get one,
it’s running a lot smoother, almost singing or purring? The single most important thing
that you can do for your car is to get your oil changed when it’s due. No low loop, no dirty loop. I also know that women feel
misunderstood, mistreated, disrespected when they’re buying cars, so I assist and consult women
with new and used car-buying. I want us all to feel good
and make more confident decisions when it comes to buying a car so we know we have a safe,
reliable car for a fair price. And the result of this education is that women are empowered to learn more
and they feel good about their cars. So up next, I’ll be opening
the first Girls Auto Clinic, full auto service repair shop
in Philadelphia. Girls Auto Clinic Repair
will cater to women. We’ll be hiring female mechanics,
technicians, and service advisors. There will be a beautiful, clean,
and welcoming lounge tailored to women but the best part
about Girls Auto Clinic Repair: there’ll be a nail salon there so you can get your nails done
while you’re waiting for your car. (Cheers) (Applause) Thank you. Girls Auto Clinic is a destination place where women can come,
feel confident about themselves, their cars, and their buying choices. They trust their auto service shop. But more importantly, they trust themselves
to make the right decision when it comes to their cars. I believe in Girls Auto Clinic. Never has there been a greater time
to be a woman in America than right now. We’re becoming empowered to take charge of things
that we once feared and avoided. And I know that we can rise
to the occasion when taking over our cars
and the automotive industry. And I’m ready for it. Are you ready, “shechanics”? Let’s do it! (Applause) Thank you. And I hope to see you all
at my grand opening. Thank you. (Applause)

12 Comments

  • Rômulo Augusto Roman

    She needs to go one step ahead and also do conversion to and repair on eletric cars. They are the future of the car industry. I bet eletric cars sales and conversions have only risen in the past 10 years. And I also bet that in the next 10 years we are going to see a dramatic increase in this market.

  • Wanda Bennett

    Patrice, I am a 65 yr old Gramma and you are my hero. I thought of this same thing back in the early 70's and tried to do some research but computers were not as capable back then. I never did move forward with my plan because I had a good paying job and 2 kids to look after on my own and the uncertainty of quitting this job and venturing into the unknown certainly was a deterrent. I don't believe there were any female mechanics back then, not that I could find anyways. Cudos to you !! You are an excellent example for our young girls of today. Best of luck to you. I am retired now and perhaps it is time that I took a mechanics course lol we will have to see what happens.:)

  • Michael Rohan Dodds

    Most women do not care about how car works, its just a ride,as long as it gets them from point A to B that's all that matters to them, I've got a mother, wife daughter, sisters and they couldn't care what's under the hood, some of them don't even look at the dash information regardless of the symbol :), and nails are precious things:)

  • Aerin Gossett

    Love you for giving this talk, I was glued to every word. I'm really insecure in life and I've been thinking about taking classes in construction and now, auto repair at my local community college. I wish you had an online school. I would love to be taught by you!

  • Calla Mett

    I tried to get a job at a place that literally just changed tires and oil. I got laughed at. I swear, two dudes literally laughed in my face.

  • Matt Hill

    I don’t think this is a gender thing. A mechanic only has to speak to a customer to work out how much a person knows about cars, and can rip them off if they appear to know very little.

  • Dave High

    When I was a kid women's career paths were so limited. I'm so happy to see women entering traditionally male fields and forcing the guys to do better in order to keep up with them.

  • CommanderTaco

    Its not that women arent represented, its that most woment dont want to be a mechanic, this is kinda unessesary. If you wanna be a mechanic, just do it, you dont need to make a whole mechanic shop that only women can work at

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