Black History Month is male dominated. So to redress the balance a little i’mjussayin has focused on the experience of black women. Historically we considered the achievements of Dr Georgia Patton. Now it is the turn of a modern achiever: Patrice Banks, lady engineer, mechanic, and entrepreneur.
Patrice Banks a self-confessed ‘auto-airhead’ was a materials engineer at DuPont. She tired of the auto industry continually overcharging her. So in 2012 Patrice went back to school to learn how to be a mechanic. Two years later she graduated with a diploma in automotive technology. In 2013 she began the Girls Auto Clinic which are workshops for women in car mechanics. Patrice left her job with DuPont after 12 years in January 2014. She released her book “The Girls Auto Clinic Glove Box Guide” that November. Patrice plans to disrupt the auto industry. She is opening a car sales and repair business this year called “Girls Auto Clinic.” It will hire female mechanics (#sheCANics), technicians and service advisers. It will also feature a while-you-wait nail salon.
The Auto Industry Facts
Women are the largest group of customers for the automobile industry. Women spend around $200bil in vehicle purchases and maintenance. In America, more women hold driving licenses than men. They are also on the road more than men. Nonetheless, the industry treats their number one customers with the utmost contempt. They charge women for unnecessary work as well as overcharging for work that is needed. The research carried out by Northwestern University confirmed that there is a practise of overcharging women.
The auto industry also obstinately refuses to employ women. Fewer than 2% of women are car mechanics, and 13% of car salespeople are women.
Patrice Banks In Training
Patrice was in full-time employment. She was an engineer with the Fortune 500 company DuPont. However, Patrice was frustrated with mechanics taking financial advantage of her. So she enrolled for mechanic classes in 2012. She had no prior knowledge of car mechanics. Patrice says “I literally walked in there barely just knowing how to open the hood of my car.” Once qualified Patrice looked to apprentice with a female mechanic. However, they are scarce, so she signed on with a local workshop. She recalls saying, “I need to learn. And I’m here to help you in any way I can. These are my skills. This is what I can help you with, but I will work here for free.”
Patrice very much wanted to be a mechanic. She even sold her late registration car and bought a banger for practise. When she needed more experience, she re-apprenticed. Initially, she found herself doing admin work. In time the manager noticed her determination and drive and offered her a job. Patrice left DuPont to embrace her new passion and her vision for Girls Auto Clinic.
Black Women Rock: Patrice Banks Visionary
Patrice wants to empower women. Her aim is for women to feel comfortable with their cars and to become SheCanics. So she started running free, monthly interactive auto workshops for local women, groups, and Girl Guides. They are taught the correct tyre pressure, the right oil and the importance of a car’s VIN and a host of other practical things. Her workshops have proved so successful that she has attracted sponsorship and media attention.
Patrice left her job in January 2014 and released her book “The Girls Auto Clinic Glove Box Guide” that November. Patrice is forging ahead with her plan to disrupt the auto industry which has shown little regard for its biggest customers. She is opening a car sales and repair shop “Girls Auto Clinic”. It will hire female mechanics (#sheCANics), technicians and service advisers. It will also feature a nail salon which will provide a while-you-wait service. For more information and to support the project visit here.
Recognising the continuous neglect that women received at the hands of the automotive industry Patrice Banks has made it her own business to change it. She is empowering and encouraging women with the education of knowing how to fix their cars.
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