Intimidation is the biggest hurdle women face when starting out as a mechanic in the trucking industry. There are men on some shop floors who will say and do things to make life difficult when a woman shows up for work.
A girl’s best tools to counter this are patience and perseverance, said Brooke Windsor, an apprentice mechanic. She feels people behave this way because they are intimidated that a girl can do what a guy can, and added that it takes a while to prove yourself for them to back off.
“When they start getting lippy with me, I lip with them back, or I just brush it off and keep doing what I am supposed to be doing,” said the 23-year-old who has been working at Chiefs Heavy Truck Collision in Kitchener, Ont. for the past year.
She gave a thumbs up to her present employer and the crew that she works with for supporting and welcoming her. Windsor said she likes to prove that girls are not inferior to men and are just as capable of doing things physically as they are mentally in this kind of work.
Windsor wanted to work on performance cars, but nobody would hire a girl who had no experience. While looking for employment on a job website, she accidentally applied for work at a lube shop. They called and asked her to come in for a couple of days and see if she liked it. “I liked it a lot,” she said.
After nearly a year at the lube shop the work got monotonous and Windsor wanted to learn new things. She heard Chiefs Heavy Truck Collision was hiring for its body shop, applied for the job, and was hired.
A day at work includes servicing brake chambers, oil changes, replacing differential and transmission oil, and pulling off and replacing tires. Windsor likes the physical part of the job because it tests her strength. “I like knowing that if I take something apart, I can put it back together. It’s really exciting.”
Windsor’s family members also work in the trades. Her dad who is an electrician, thinks his daughter’s job is awesome. Her sister is an elevator mechanic.
She said her friends think her job is “crazy and wild,” and don’t realize the intensity of the tasks she performs.
The benefit of working with trucks is that since she drives a diesel vehicle, she can fix it if something goes wrong. She also doesn’t have to hit the gym as her job is physically demanding and she gets a workout every day.
Windsor wants to work on engines and transmissions and is soon heading to school to pursue that goal. She will study and work for the next three years to achieve her Truck and Coach Technician (310T) certification.
And since she likes trucks so much, she is also aiming to get her A/Z licence so she can drive them down the road.
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