Breaking down barriers: working in automotive as a woman

breaking barrier

Growing up in a family that owns Westgate Tyres, a tyre and vehicle maintenance shop, I was immersed in the world of all thing’s cars from a young age. I watched my mum and dad work tirelessly, and was inspired to join them, eager to support our family business. However, as a young girl entering a male-dominated industry, I faced numerous challenges. My journey has been one of resilience, determination, and a constant struggle to be taken seriously.

Remaining undeterred

From the start, I was passionate about learning everything I could about tyres and vehicle maintenance. I spent hours in the depot, absorbing knowledge and honing my skills. I learned the basics, how to check oil levels, and perform basic maintenance tasks as well as becoming a tyre expert. However, despite my enthusiasm and growing expertise, I quickly realised that my gender often overshadowed my abilities in the eyes of customers and even some colleagues.

Customers would walk into our depot and immediately ask to speak to "one of the guys." Even when I was just as knowledgeable as any other person available, they hesitated to trust my advice or let me check on their vehicles. It was as if my gender invalidated my expertise in their eyes.

There were countless times when a customer, seeing me behind the counter would question my presence. "Is there a man I can talk to?" they'd ask. It was frustrating and disheartening, but I refused to let it deter me. I knew that proving my worth would be a long battle, but it was one I was willing to fight.

To overcome these biases, I would call them out. If we want to be able to make a change and embrace a more diverse workforce then surely, we should try and educate people?

I took on challenging tasks, provided a memorable and effective service and made sure every job I did was flawless. Slowly but surely, my work began to speak for itself. Regular customers started to recognise my capabilities and knowledge and requested to speak to me specifically, acknowledging that I was just as competent – if not more so than anyone else in the depot.

Standout moment

One particular incident stands out in my memory. A couple who were asking for some tyre advice were taken a back by my wide knowledge and even said “Wow for such a young girl, you really do know a thing or two!”

Earning respect in this industry was a gradual process. It has taken dedication and persistence. I am now known as the ‘’Tyre Lady’’ and have been recently recognised as Automechanika’s Inspiring female of the year.

There are three strong women at the heart of our family business. My mum, my sister and me, all with the same aim and that is to provide a service where females can feel listened too, not taken advantage of and most of all can trust what is being said. From our whole experience so far we have taken pride in providing this service and have become well known in our area for it.

Supporting the next generation

Reflecting on my journey, I am proud of the progress I've made and the barriers I've broken down. Being a woman in the automotive industry, especially in tyres and basic maintenance, has been challenging but incredibly rewarding. My experiences have taught me resilience, the importance of hard work, and the value of persistence.

As I continue to support and grow our family business, I remain committed to advocating for gender equality in the industry. I mentor young women who are interested in automotive careers, sharing my experiences and encouraging them to pursue their passions despite people opinions. The road to gender equality in the automotive industry is long, but with determination and support, I am confident we can pave the way for future generations of women to thrive.

My journey in automotive has been marked by challenges and triumphs. By proving my abilities through hard work and dedication, I have earned respect and built a successful career. I hope my story inspires other women to break barriers and pursue their dreams, no matter the obstacles they may face.