The automotive market has long been seen as a male dominated industry. Men design the vehicles, produce and drive them. For many years little thought has been put into the idea of how this affects women and whether it matters. However, with more women in the work force, not only do they have the money to purchase their own vehicles, they are becoming a large portion of consumers of which should not be ignored. Women have long been alienated by the automotive industry and only in recent years have studies been done to assess how much.
Over the years one thing remains clear, women are not taught about maintaining their vehicles like men are. If we go back to the days when women attended home economic classes while men had shop and automotive, it is clear that the intentions were that car maintenance was men’s work. There are even some who believe that women do not have the capability to learn this technology. The unfortunate problem with this belief is that women drive cars, cars break down and they need to understand at least a little bit about them. Everyone needs to at least have an understanding of the language and how to communicate as an informed consumer about their vehicle, yet we continue to teach the boys and not the girls.
The automotive industry has largely been catering to a male audience with little to no acknowledgment that women today have much more buying influence. While some progress has been made to include women, there is still a long way to go. The automotive shops need to be a place where women can feel comfortable to come in, ask questions and be treated with respect no matter what their knowledge base. Until this happens, the automotive industry will continue to alienate a large group of the consumer population. Why should this matter to them? Because women purchase over 50% of all new cars and 48% of used cars, and they influence 80% of all auto purchases and repair decisions (Road & Travel Magazine).
Women really just want to be heard and taken seriously. They are just as concerned as the men are about what type of work needs to be done to their vehicles and why it is important. My goal, when I started Ladies, Start Your Engines, was to give women a safe place to learn and ask questions about their vehicles. It also offers a chance for the shops that hire me to show that they are concerned with what women want and that they are interested in offering them this type of service. It is not easy to win women over. It will take some work, because they want their questions answered in a way that makes them feel comfortable. They want to understand why the work is being done and not given the line “it’s too technical for you to understand.”