The Benefits of being a Woman in the Automotive Industry

Many are quick to ask the lone woman in the body shop if she faces any challenges being the minority. Kiara Reissner sees it as an opportunity.

“Everyone asks me if I have experienced anything bad [about being a woman in the automotive industry] but I haven’t,” Kiara said. “Not from people I work with at all. Maybe from customers but never the people I work with. I feel part of the team.”

“It may seem scary to go into a place where you’re the only girl but I really I just see it as a positive thing.”

Her uncle has an automotive shop in Williams Lake, where she grew up, and she started working for him in the office. But when the “shop boy” quit she thought she’d take on the role. When she was in high school she never considered working in the automotive industry as students were pushed towards academics and mechanics was seen as a place to goof off. It wasn’t until she was working in the shop that she realized she’d found a job she loved.

She worked there for five years until she wanted to take her skills to the next level. Last September, she started the automotive refinishing prep technician course at Vancouver Community College. She finished in January and started her painting apprenticeship at Richmond Auto Body, in North Vancouver, B.C.

She loves her job because of the opportunities it offers. “I like working with my hands. I find I can’t sit. I like to constantly be moving. I like that it’s different every day and not every job is the same.”

And she feels there are a lot of really great benefits to being a woman in the workplace. “In school you get picked for things. And everyone always remembers your name because there is usually only one girl.” Plus, there are a lot of scholarship and bursary opportunities available to woman looking to work in the automotive industry. And, she said, “I actually feel that because people are worried I’ll be ‘emotional’ they treat me nicer.”

In fact, the only thing Kiara wishes for is more women in the industry to work with. “I’m the only girl that works in the shop but at school there was one other girl and it was nice.”

Her goal is to go back to school and eventually become Red Seal certified. “Once I have my Red Seal I’m interested in doing custom work like pin-striping and airbrushing.”

Kiara is not alone in hoping more women will get involved in the automotive industry. The ARA will be hosting an event celebrating women in the automotive and powersports industry on June 27 in Burnaby, B.C. This will be an excellent opportunity for recruitment and networking. If you are interested in getting involved go to https://www.ara.bc.ca/araevents/women-in-the-automotive-and-powersports-industry/ for more information.