Maintenance

Female Faces in Fleet

June 2013, Government Fleet - Feature

by Thi Dao - Also by this author

At A Glance
Fleet managers can seek out female employees by:
  • Recruiting at job fairs, vocational schools, and even high school auto tech programs
  • Advertising on non-trade specific or non-traditional fleet employment websites
  • Working with Human Resources staff to “think outside the box” when it comes to recruiting
  • Stressing that there are administrative and finance positions in the industry
  • Informing people fleet can be a great starting point for automotive, finance, or management careers

Tony Molla, vice president of communications for the National Institute for Automotive Service
Excellence (ASE), estimates women make up roughly 1% of the technician workforce in the United States.
Tony Molla, vice president of communications for the National Institute for Automotive ServiceExcellence (ASE), estimates women make up roughly 1% of the technician workforce in the United States.

When Barb Bonansinga joined the State of Illinois fleet parts staff in 1984, there were no other women on the shop floor. Julie Boring joined the City of Dallas in 1994 as the first female fleet technician the City had ever hired.

Bonansinga and Boring have both risen through the ranks to management roles at their organizations. Bonansinga is a fleet manager at the State of Illinois and president of the National Conference of State Fleet Administrators (NCSFA), and Boring, CAFM, is fleet operations manager for the City of Austin, Texas.

Being the lone female on a fleet technical staff was not uncommon when Bonansinga and Boring worked on the shop floor and in many cases, is still not uncommon. Female fleet managers who have risen from the shop are rare. Fixing cars is obviously still seen as a “man’s job,” tied with a cluster of other “men’s jobs,” even as an increasing number of females join the ranks of fleet management, many from the administrative side.

According to Nanci Lien, CAFM, PFO, CPFA, fleet administration manager for the City of Seattle, what keeps women away from the shop floor is still the association that it’s not a place for them. “There are females who think, ‘I could never be in fleet, or the water department, or solid waste, or wastewater department,’ ” she said.

Tony Molla, vice president of communications for the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), estimates women make up roughly 1% of the technician workforce in the United States.

Women aren’t excluded, but they aren’t necessarily recruited. While there were challenges and there will continue to be challenges in being the rare woman on the shop floor, and even on the management side, the public sector fleet industry is an excellent place for anyone with interest in the automotive sector. And if fleet managers are worried about recruiting qualified technicians, isn’t there an entire half of the population they can tap into as potential hires?

The challenge comes in finding females who have an interest in automotive technology but are just not aware of fleet —and letting them know that whether it’s on the shop floor or in management, there’s a place in the industry for them.

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