Auto Service World
News   July 25, 2016   by Allan Janssen

EDITORIAL: Women have a place in the aftermarket

New report shows how much work still needs to be done to make women comfortable in the aftermarket.

On Women in the Aftermarket:

It’s Time For Us to Grow Up!


By Allan Janssen


My friends know that I’m rarely embarrassed by this industry.

They sometimes make fun of me for my relentlessly positive editorials, in which I praise the army of skilled Canadians who keep our cars on the road.

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 5.06.23 PMEven when there are claims of unethical business practices, I don’t condemn until I’ve asked enough questions to determine if the storyteller was really treated unfairly, or simply rendered indignant by the cost of a difficult job.

I’ll stand with the aftermarket any day of the week.

But there have been times when I’ve visited shops and spoken with readers and been shocked by some extraordinarily backward views about women. Some of those views were recently documented in a study by the Automotive Industries Association of Canada.

The AWAKE report – partially funded by the federal government – records the experiences of women in the aftermarket… and the reading is difficult in places.

It reports that in the course of their work, female employees in our male-dominated industry have routinely experienced humiliation, discrimination, and even harassment. They’ve been spoken down to, ignored, passed over for promotion, hit on, and disrespected. Many of the stories, told by anonymous voices, are enough to make any rational man cringe with embarrassment.

The report rightly suggests these stories “offer sobering insights into existing barriers to women’s advancement.”

I recognize and appreciate the differences between men and women… but they are clearly not as vast as once supposed. I honestly can’t think of a trade that women could not excel in. Anyone who says women aren’t smart enough to follow a wiring diagram or strong enough to turn a wrench is crippled by prejudice. Anyone who thinks their male technicians or customers are not ready for women technicians are listening to the wrong people. There is no longer any room for misogyny in our industry.

It is shameful, in our enlightened age, to see pictures of naked women on shop walls, or to hear sexist comments in service bays, at parts counters, and in corporate offices at every level of our industry.

If women lack opportunities in the aftermarket, it is because small-minded men have denied them. We need to make this right. We need to remove the barriers to entry and promotion. We need to make our workplaces not only welcoming to women but comfortable enough for them to want to stay. We all need to challenge sexism when we see it.

It’s time for us to grow up.

The Automotive Industries Association of Canada has done an admirable thing in tackling this difficult problem. They’re right in calling for an end to sexism in our industry. I’d like to add my voice to theirs. We need great technicians, service advisors, managers, and shop owners in this industry. There’s no reason why half of them should not be women.

Women have long demanded respect, equality, and fairness in all aspects of life. Surely we’re progressive enough, here in the automotive aftermarket, to make that a reality in our workplaces.


AJ-CARS-01Please let me know what you think. You can reach me at

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3 Comments » for EDITORIAL: Women have a place in the aftermarket
  1. cal67 says:

    Hear, hear. As a customer at a number of shops I have heard and seen examples of misogyny from both front of shop people and technicians. As someone who works in the manufacturing field, I have had to directly order some employees to remove pictures and calendars from the wall that did not match up with the inclusiveness we are trying to cultivate. Our facility currently has no female employees on the shop floor (we have had some in the past) and I believe this is partly because the culture makes women uncomfortable.

  2. Thank you so much! I work with an organization dedicated to encouraging more women to consider careers in trades. I have discouraged women from going into the auto industry because of how they are treated! Your article nailed it! Let’s hope they own up to it and make a commitment to fix it. They should be ashamed of how they have treated female employees and female customers! Grow up indeed…it’s 2016!

  3. Monica says:

    Thank you so much for posting this editorial. I whole heartly agree that there are still some technicians who need to have a change in attitude towards women in the trade.

    I have spoken with other women in the trade and some of the horror stories I’ve heard have left me shocked. I have been very fortunate and grateful that my own experience has been mostly a good one. I am happy to be getting up in the morning to go to a job I love and to work with people I like for a company I believe in.

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