TechForce, an Arizona-based nonprofit dedicated to boosting the ranks of technicians in all industries, interviewed dozens of female automotive technicians in the spring. TechForce wanted to find out what challenges face women who fix cars for a living and how new-vehicle dealers, body shops and garages can do a better job recruiting and retaining female technicians. Just 2.5 percent of the technicians in the transportation industry are women, says Dana Rapoport, 55, who is in charge of diversity and inclusion for TechForce. She spoke with Staff Reporter Richard Truett. Here are edited excerpts.
Q: The TechForce report on female technicians working at new-car dealerships didn't gloss over the negative experiences women often face. Were the interviews with female techs surprising?
A: So much of [female techs'] situation depended on how their employer set them up for success. We saw some employers that weren't as welcoming and gracious. Then there were stores where gender didn't make a difference. And in those stores, females were much more successful. What is surprising is that in this day and age, we are still dealing with that kind of generational thinking. The truth is a lot of women were working with men of a certain generation. The older the tech, the harder the relationship was to build. We still have some generational changes to go through before people look at female techs as the norm.