Black History Month: Leading the Way

Patrice Banks Is Building an Army of Female Mechanics

Instagram/girlsautoclinic

Patrice Banks used to call herself an “auto airhead.”

Even though she was a successful engineer at DuPont, the Pennsylvania native was clueless when it came to fixing her own car. She hated handing over money to men for auto repairs she could probably have figured out own her own.

“I waited until the last minute to do repairs,” says Banks. “I think that it’s almost the culture ingrained that women don’t understand cars. We’re taught very young [to believe]…you’re not going to get it…[to] let a man handle it.”

In an essay for “The Washington Post,” Banks acknowledges the sense of feeling taken advantage of, one that many women also feel in the male-dominate auto industry. “Most drivers have auto-repair horror stories, but women are especially vulnerable,” Banks wrote.  

She wanted to change that. After her search for a local female mechanic to work with came up empty, Banks decided to take night classes to become one herself.

Banks earned a certification in auto repair and founded the Girls Auto Clinic, a series of workshops and trainings where women can learn the basic of auto maintenance. More than just skills, the Girls Auto Clinic provides budding female mechanics the chance to build community with each other. #SheCanics is Banks’ bustling online hub where women can connect with other mechanics and get judgement free car maintenance advice.  “They’re the SheCanics of the future,” says Banks. “The possibilities are endless.”

True to her roots, Banks’ first book, “The Girls Auto Clinic Glove Box Guide,” is a how-to manual that empowers women helping them avoid getting ripped off by male mechanics.

And just in case you’re thinking about putting off getting that oil change and getting a manicure instead, you’re in luck. Staffed entirely by women, Banks’ new auto repair shop has a full service salon on site so women can treat themselves to a spa day while their car has one, too!

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