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International Women's Day 2022: Meet our mechanic Abi

What made you decide to go into mechanics?

I’ve always been interested in mechanics. Lots of my friends’ dads were mechanics, and I’ve been around cars since around 13. I’ve never been a ‘girly’ girl – I love watching Nascar and getting down and dirty! When it comes to work, I enjoy mechanics for the variety – you never really know what’s coming your way during the day. I love the problem solving of it all, although it can get frustrating when I don’t know what to do because I am just an apprentice now, so I’ve got lots to learn.

This is typically a male-dominated environment – how does is make you feel/how do you break the bias?

I guess I sort of break the bias by being a female in mechanics. I didn’t do mechanics at university, after high school I went straight to work in hospitality, which ironically is a female-dominated environment. I don’t feel different or special in the workshop here at TIP, but when I was applying to apprenticeships I got a ton of rejections and while they never said it was because I was female, I definitely felt like gender was one of the reasons. I had the same with rugby at school, we were told we couldn’t play so we started our own women’s team down the street! I love a challenge and I am a stubborn bugger, so whenever someone tells me I can’t do something, I love proving them wrong!

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Personally, I want to get my qualification and then stay on the shop floor for as long as I can. I love practical work and getting my hands dirty, so I would probably get too distracted in a typical office setting. I would love to be a trainer for other people, someone they can come up to who understands what they might be feeling as a female in this field.

What do you like most about your job?

In some of my previous jobs I felt just like another worker, not really a person – some companies can be quite distant. Here, everything is hands-on, and I am treated like family. When I mess up, I am not yelled at, I get my mistake corrected, explained and then we move on. When you come into a male-dominated environment as a female you almost expect to get mistreated, your skin needs to be a bit tougher than others to make it work. I don’t feel like that here at all.

What’s the most difficult about your job?

Knowing what the correct procedures are. I have only started about 6 months ago, and I am happy that I can find a fault when a tanker comes in, but I am not always quite sure how to solve it. So then I start questioning myself, overthinking the fault – is it actually a fault, am I right… the self-doubt gets to me.

We see you as a role model, how do you see yourself?

I see myself as inspiration, not quite a role model just yet as I’m waiting on my qualification, so maybe then! I know women who wanted to be mechanics but didn’t get to because they couldn’t get through college due to lack of support, or the company wasn’t a good match. There needs to be a shift in thinking when it comes to mechanics college – it really shouldn’t matter what gender you are, if you’re passionate and willing to learn you should have the support needed to make sure you can pursue your dream career. Having a company that supports you and wants to see you succeed is obviously also important.

Please share one ‘pearl of wisdom’ with us – what would you like aspiring mechanics to know 

Anything is possible – male or female you can do everything you set your mind to, there’s nothing stopping you. Once you find what it is you want to do, go all in. Don’t forget to have a solid breakfast before though!

2022/03/09

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