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  • Writer's pictureDonna Milgram

Are your female students prepared to work in the rough environment of a shop?


Female and male STEM Students
Female and male STEM Students

During the last 2 weeks I’ve been very busy! And you’re going to be very interested …


I conducted 2 WomenTech Automotive Trainings.

One was a Year 2 WomenTech Plan Revision Workshop for a 2-year College. They added 8 new female students to their Automotive and Diesel Programs and wanted to make sure they didn’t lose them.


The other training was with a College just starting out in its journey to recruit more female students.


Like all the Schools I work with, these two created WomenTech Recruitment and Retention Plans during the training itself – right from the plan template I provided.


Even better, I often tailor and augment the plan templates based on your needs.


For example, recently I added “Preparing Female Students for Shop Culture” to the Automotive Retention Plans because both of these colleges have significant work-based learning activities and apprenticeships that are part of their programs.


Here are some of the comments of male instructors and staff who have worked in these shop environments themselves as we discussed this Plan Strategy.


“I worked fleet, it was pretty bad there. Not as bad as the dealerships, but it’s bad.”


“It’s always been a tough environment. It’s getting better slowly though. But they need to be prepared. They are tough environments.”


“There are some shops that still have bikini models on all the walls.”


Some of the strategies to prepare women for these rough environments:


Explain the horseplay and hazing that goes on i.e. being told to find a tool that

doesn’t exist so students don’t take this personally and are prepared to respond to this

A Success Skills Workshop for Female Auto Students by Female Auto Technicians

who have successfully navigated these shops

A module on How to Find Male Allies on the Job in the Success Skills Workshop


But what about changing these shop environments?


In the New Workplace for Women Project I created, there’s a system to drive change – to prepare these workplaces to successfully receive women in very male-dominated industries.


You’ll be glad to know that it’s been very effective in the real world – and was adopted nationally by many law enforcement agencies.


This model can definitely be applied to automotive and diesel shops. We’ll be polling Industry Advisory Council members in one of the colleges to gauge the interest in such a training. I predict the interest will be off the charts. Why? Because the shortage of automotive and diesel service technicians is crippling these industries. Since women make up a mere 2% of automotive technicians, women can solve this problem.


The only thing that needs to change to effect this solution? The shop environment. And you can do that!

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