Talk about DIY: Former DuPont engineer Patrice Banks was a self-described "auto airhead" — until she decided to become a mechanic herself.
It was, as she describes in her TEDx talk at Wilmington University presentation below, an evolution that started about six years ago when she went looking for a female auto mechanic to help her understand what she didn't know. But she couldn't find one.
Sick of feeling like she was paying more for repairs than male customers (which studies show is more likely to happen to women), and feeling ignorant, Banks took action.
She kept her engineering job, but decided to take auto mechanic classes at a community college on the side. She completed her coursework in two years and got her diploma in automotive technology.
"Women feel misunderstood by automakers and taken advantage of by mechanics. We think, 'Is this real, do I really need this? Does it cost that much money or am I being taken advantage of?' "
She realized that many other women felt the same way she had before she got a mechanic's degree — intimidated and frustrated by the experience. Women fear dealing with mechanics more than going to the dentist, as Banks wrote in a piece for the Washington Post. So now, not only does she fix cars, she's empowering other women to do the same.
Women at a Girls Auto Clinic lesson. (Photo: Patrice Banks/Facebook page)
She founded the Girls Auto Clinic, which offers workshops focused on making conversations with mechanics more comfortable and doing basic car repairs.
But she's not stopping there. Banks plans to open her own auto shop that employs and services women's cars. The business will have a comfortable lounge and even offer nail services. That's a tip to her own past — she once chose to get a mani/pedi over an oil change — but also decided to kill two birds with one stone and offer two services women need under the same roof.
"We want to be a destination place for women who will want their car to be worked on and to feel good about their car repairs," she told ABC News.
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