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Breaking the Gender Bias at the Intersection of Male-Dominated Industries

posted 08 March, 2022 by Jackson Balling
News, Business, Technician

Here at Spiffy, the work we do lies at the intersection of the automotive and tech fields. Part of our ongoing journey involves breaking down the gender bias and inequality between both industries, which have traditionally been male-dominated. We strive to achieve this by hiring a team focused on cooperation and innovation, rather than only what’s considered “tried and true.”

In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re eager to highlight the diverse and talented female voices who are helping Spiffy grow to new heights - from out in the field to the heart of our headquarters in Durham, NC!

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Casey Garrett, Denver Supervisor

What barriers or gender biases have you faced in your career? How did you overcome them?
We have a large market of male technicians, especially here in Denver. A lot of the time, when we’re going through training, there’s a lot of “Let me get that for you,” or “Oh, that’s too heavy,” or “You can’t do that.” The only way to overcome it is to just say, “Watch me.” It's just a lot of calling it out when the guys do it, even if it’s not on purpose. It’s just kind of a habit for them to take all the dirty or heavy work from us, and our answer is always “Just stand back and watch me.”

What more should be done to support women in the automotive industry?
It just comes down to a culture of treating everybody as if they’re the same as the next person walking through the door. All anybody’s looking for is equality. They don’t want to be babied, left behind, or shoved to the background. So it just comes down to starting with equality from the moment everyone comes in for that first day. Everybody talks to each other the same way, everybody treats each other the same way. It’s the same tools, the same jobs, and everyone is trusted to do the same tasks.

What change would you like to see for women in the workplace in the next ten years?
It gets kind of tricky, especially in the workplace. A lot of the guys don't necessarily think that they do things that could be harmful to their female co-workers, or that they're in the wrong when they're doing something that could potentially be harmful to a company’s culture. So it comes down to leadership taking control of that, understanding that everybody is an equal, and having more training or, for lack of a better word, seminars on how to treat each other in the workplace, regardless of sex.

Based on your own experience, what advice would you give to women considering pursuing a career in your field?
Put your head down and work. It's all worth it in the end. They'll believe it when they see it, so show them.

What is something that you’re passionate about outside of work?
Project cars! I just bought a 1988 Bronco yesterday, so all of my spare time and money has been put into that. I love making cars as ridiculous as possible. My original goal was to buy a Miata and try to fit a Cummins engine into it. Just make a little diesel car that’s fun and stupid. With the Bronco, I want to throw a single turbo Coyote engine in it and give it a five-inch lift, then have a little race truck.
 

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Laura Morales, Account Manager, Franchise Sales

What barriers or gender biases have you faced in your career? How did you overcome them?
Sometimes people may think just because you're a woman, you may not know anything about automotive, or you may not know specific things that are required to be in a guy's world. And you do have to work a little bit harder to gain people's attention. But I think what ends up helping me is being very relentless. I'll get in somebody's face and I'll be like, “Hey, here's what we can do for you, here's how it works,” and just do a good job. Even if I get a rejection, I use it as an opportunity to keep pushing forward.
 
I don’t think of gender as a barrier. I've always just never let any of that get in the way. I think the biggest kind of misconception about gender is that it has to do anything about the workplace. It doesn’t. But when something starts to become a barrier, you start to frame it as one that will never change. So I don’t make it a barrier.
 
What is something that you’re passionate about outside of work?
My personal mission is to be the best at my job so I can raise money for my charity. I grew up in Guatemala City then my family immigrated to South Carolina, so I had a tough upbringing as an immigrant child. I was fortunate to get a sponsored scholarship to go to school, so I raise money to do the same for immigrant students who want to go to school. 
 
My biggest goal is to raise over $10 million for that fund. I generate business and different synergies throughout my life, so I can be that person that keeps raising money towards that cause. That very human experience is what helped me assimilate to American culture and helped me realize that I could do anything, regardless of how far at the bottom I was, and that somebody was always willing to help me. 
 
I just kind of swore to myself that I was going to be the person that figured out how to self-actualize and support myself so that I can be truly committed to this bigger mission. I put $15,000 towards my charity last year. Who knows what else can I do this year? It has guided my life to believe there is no ceiling towards my potential, and there's no ceiling towards anything that has to do with me. It's just a matter of continuing to push towards greatness.

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Lindsay Cross, Digital Marketing Specialist

What barriers or gender biases have you faced in your career? How did you overcome them?
I’ve definitely noticed gender biases in every job I’ve ever worked, whether it was due to questioning my abilities or difference in pay. The questioning of my abilities aspect of it led me to have to work harder and continually prove myself. I’m a competitor by nature, so if you tell me I can’t, I will.
 
This specifically makes me think of my first job working at a carwash in high school. (Ironic, I know). It was a tunnel and interior/exterior establishment, so everything on the outside took place in the tunnel, and then you would come around the bend, park, and we’d take care of everything else for your car. I always wanted to learn about tunnel positions because it was all led by boys. It was considered one of the harder jobs because of the lifting of the brush, the constant heat of the tunnel, and the pace of the work. Naturally, I wanted to prove them all wrong. I have to say I did it pretty well when given the opportunity. However, I was never assigned to that moving forward, and essentially it stayed a male-centered position. I think to this day, they’ve only ever let one girl take on that position, and it was only brush, never tunnel lead.
 
As far as pay, that one has always been difficult, especially in my first agency position. I came in as a very entry-level employee but had the mindset to move up within the company. I quickly changed titles 2 to 3 times within the first year of being there but was still making significantly less than a male coworker with a similar title. It does make you question yourself a little, as if your work isn’t valued as much or worth as much as your male counterparts.
 
What more should be done to support women in the automotive and tech fields?
I think that these industries should be advocating inclusion at an earlier stage in life. I’m not sure if this is available in most public high schools, but at least for mine in Pennsylvania, we had a vocational school option. Students could get their core classes at the high school and then spend the other half of the day learning about welding, carpentry, mechanics, etc.
 
I always thought it was a cool concept for students that knew traditional education wasn’t in their future. I will say that many of the students were male, so that is something that should broaden because we’re no longer in the world where women have to go to college and take on traditional careers. When I was in school, I think there might have been a handful of job fairs that were hosted by the school district, but they mainly focused on traditional education. Middle schools and high schools should host job fairs or informational assemblies with women in the field to encourage the participation of girls in these programs.
 
What change would you like to see for women in the workplace in the next ten years?
I’d definitely like to see more women entering male-dominated industries and maintaining higher titles within the companies. I think when I looked it up, one article stated that even though women make up half of the workforce in the U.S., they represent only one-quarter of the automotive workforce. To still have an industry be considered “male-dominated” in 2022 is such an outdated way of thinking. She may not have won, but the fact that we almost had a female president in our generation proves that women are capable of anything in any industry. In addition to seeing women take on more significant roles in the industry, I’d love to see the pay gap lessen as well. Your gender shouldn’t be a contributing factor to what your salary is, but rather your abilities. 
 
Based on your own experience, what advice would you give to women considering pursuing a career in your field? 
I would tell them that if their heart is in it, to go for it. If you have a passion and love for what you do, what other people say won’t matter. If anything, it’ll light the fire within you even more.
 
What is something that you’re passionate about outside of work?
I’m really passionate about cooking/baking. Before I decided to go back for my graduate degree, I had actually considered going to culinary school. I would say being in the kitchen is my happy place, and I love making something that brightens someone else’s day. I feel like some of my best dishes are ones that I have no intention of making in the first place. A lot of the time, I won’t use a recipe and just kind of go off of what I have on hand at the time. Creativity is endless when it comes to food.

2022InternationalWomansDay-BreakTheBias-Blog-Body-Image-MaggiePinner

Maggie Pinner, Spiffy Customer Care Manager

What barriers or gender biases have you faced in your career? How did you overcome them?
Working in customer service is thankfully a fairly women-friendly career path, but in the past, there have been multiple times where employees who worked under me didn’t want to take direction from a female manager. I always made sure to still be professional because what they say is on their character but how I respond is on mine. Thankfully since I’ve come to work for Spiffy, I haven’t had any of these issues! Spiffy has always had my back which I’m very grateful for!
 
What more should be done to support women in the automotive and tech fields?
Don’t discredit women just based on our gender. If women are applying for jobs in the tech and automotive fields, it’s because they think they are capable of doing the work! We know there’s going to be physical labor involved and we know we’re going to be getting dirty, but if we apply, it’s because we’re okay with that and think we have something beneficial to add to the company!
 
What change would you like to see for women in the workplace in the next ten years?
I want women to be able to exist as they are without it being held against them. You can still be feminine and be extremely knowledgeable about cars! You can be less feminine, and that’s perfectly fine too! I have a more bubbly personality that has in the past led people to judge me too quickly and think I’m not as intelligent. Just let women exist as they are, and if we’re going to be judged in the workplace, let it solely be on our work performance.
 
Based on your own experience, what advice would you give to women considering pursuing a career in your field? 
Don’t be afraid to go for it! I know more women want to enter this field but hesitate because they’re worried they’re going to enter a space that won’t welcome them. Judging too quickly goes both ways! If you want to enter the field, then dive in with an open mind because you might end up somewhere like Spiffy, which is very welcoming to female leaders!
 
What is something that you’re passionate about outside of work?
Outside of work, I have a lot of passions that are strongly centered around learning. I love learning new things even if I never master them. This year I dove into learning about composting, gardening, doing my own home projects, making kimchi, and very soon, I’m going to start Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Education is forever, so never stop learning!

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Severnia Wynn, Orlando Supervisor

What barriers or gender biases have you faced in your career? How did you overcome them? 
There have been many barriers in my career where I believed I was overlooked or not seen for the skills I have gained over the years because I am female. In my personal experience, I have worked very hard to move up in other companies, and no matter how hard or how much I did, I would never get a fair shake. I did not make as much money, but I did the work and more. The way to overcome that bias is to continue to work hard and always give 100%. When I entered the male-dominated automotive industry, I thought about my past experiences, not letting them stop me. Those past experiences made me more eager to be the best at what I do here at Spiffy.
 
What more should be done to support women in the automotive and tech fields? 
They need to feel welcome. Even here at Spiffy, women searching for a job may not think they can be hired here, especially if they are looking at the website. Our website has pictures of male technicians, but female technicians aren't as featured. We need to fix that to change how our work is perceived by women looking to enter the industry.
 
Based on your own experience, what advice would you give to women considering pursuing a career in your field? 
Being in the field and being a technician is not an easy position. However, that is how we should look at all jobs, no matter the industry. If you are willing to learn, you can do it, and if your goal is to move up, the opportunity is there. Let your experience and skills move you. There is no time to be cute, so put up your hair, throw on your hat, and let's go to work.

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Nicole Haight, VP of HR

What barriers or gender biases have you faced in your career? How did you overcome them?
I have worked in male-dominated industries for most of my career, so this is a topic that, unfortunately, isn’t new. It is easy to get discouraged when you find out a male colleague is making more or someone ties your professional worth to physical appearance. My default has always been to work hard and to strengthen my voice. It isn’t always easy to speak up when these inequities impact you or someone else, but challenge yourself to do so anyway. Our voice is a muscle that we constantly need to strengthen, so the time to start is now.
 
With that being said, there will be workplaces that do not support that. Then the decision becomes is your energy better spent leaving so you can make an impact where your impact is welcomed. I am grateful Spiffy empowers and values its employees each day, and I am excited to be part of what we are doing in the People space. 
 
What more should be done to support women in the automotive and tech fields?
We need to stop isolating activities based on gender. As children, my brother and I participated in Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. The boys got to make a Pinewood Derby car, but it was assumed that the girls would not enjoy that same activity. Breaking down gender biases will expose men and women to career opportunities that were previously considered “non-traditional” for their gender. I believe that starts with how we play, learn and engage throughout our development. 
 
What is a change you’d like to see for women in the workplace in the next 10 years?
I would like to see more women and men sharing the responsibility of promoting employee well-being and assisting in DEI efforts. Women leaders tend to champion these activities, but everyone benefits from happy and productive employees. If we all care about burnout, mental health, and a diverse workforce, then the collective organization also benefits from engaged employees and increased retention.  
 
Based on your own experience, what advice would you give to women considering pursuing a career in your field?
Dive in and speak up! The more diverse perspectives we have in an organization, the better we will all be for it. Women must be at the table to encourage other women to feel welcome there as well. With that does come the responsibility of using your voice to create a space where more women would feel welcome and excited about coming to work. So, speak up and help make the change you want to see. 
 
What is something that you’re passionate about outside of work?
Movement! I start each day by moving my body in some capacity. Whether it be yoga, walking the dogs, or a spin class, movement is critical for me. My job is to support others all day, so I start by supporting myself.
 

A huge shout-out to everyone who took the time to share their thoughts on breaking the gender bias in the workplace, and every woman here at Spiffy. We're made stronger by what we're able to achieve together, and International Women's Day is a great opportunity to celebrate our cooperative accomplishments.

If you’re interested in finding your place here at Spiffy, don’t hesitate to check out our latest career listings and apply for a position that suits your skill set!

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Posted in News, Business, Technician

Written by Jackson Balling

Jackson is our Content Marketing Manager, bringing over five years of professional experience in creative copywriting, audio production, and video editing to the Spiffy Marketing team.
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