by Lori Johnson
When I was working at a dealership as a technician, for the most part, the other techs treated me like everyone else. They helped me and I helped them and there really wasn’t an issue about me being female in an all male environment.
The first conflict came about when a retired gentleman came in with a radio problem. Because the car’s mileage was below the first 3,000 mile service, it came to me. I checked the radio and found no problem with it. When the service advisor talked to the customer he asked to speak to the technician. I could tell by the look on his face that he was surprised when a woman came out to talk to him.
I explained how the radio worked and that it was working as it should. He told me that he was not satisfied with my answer and asked if he could speak to a male technician. I took him back out to the advisor and explained his request to speak with a male technician.
At that point, even though I was angry at being questioned, I went back to work and on with my day. About 20 minutes later I saw the owner of the vehicle motioning for me to come over to him. He seemed much more reserved and was having trouble looking me in the eye. I asked him what I could do for him and he told me that he had just come over to apologize to me. He said that not only did the male technician tell him the same thing that I did about his radio, but that the other technician asked him why he had questioned me, was it just because I was female?
The man felt a little sheepish and didn’t give an answer, but it was obvious, since he asked for a male technician, that he had questioned my ability to work on his vehicle. I told him that I was angry that he questioned me because I was a female, but that I appreciated the fact that he came over and admitted his mistake.
The interesting thing was that from that time on, whenever he came to the dealership for work, he would come over and see me and ask me about the technician working on his car. He always asked me to check on it and let me know what they found.
Even though we were from different generations, and had been raised with different ideals, we were able to find common ground. It’s important to admit when we’re wrong; it’s the only way we grow, as people and as a society.