BY: ELIJAH BASSETT
Despite all that feminists have achieved up to now, many professions are still heavily gendered, and this has real consequences on people’s lives and society at large. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and Patrice Banks is living proof. Banks is a mechanic who has taken it upon herself to change the way women relate to the auto industry and vice versa with her all-women business called Girl’s Auto Clinic.
Girl’s Auto Clinic is located near Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. But what sets this auto shop even further apart from the male-dominated norms of the industry is the second business running within it: a beauty salon. The salon, called Clutch Beauty Bar, lets customers relax and get their hair and nails done while they wait for the mechanics to finish up with their cars. Banks hopes that this will contribute to the auto clinic’s larger goal of making women feel “relaxed, respected, and informed” by their experience there.
The issue of respect is a big one for Banks, and it’s actually a reason she started the Girl’s Auto Clinic in 2013. Because of the disrespect women often experience when dealing with male mechanics, she decided that women needed a space where they could get their cars serviced without needing to feel on edge around the mechanics who should be helping them.
Banks also hopes to help women engage with the auto industry by educating them about vehicles in a friendly and accessible way. Even if they don’t all become what Banks calls #sheCANics, the fact remains that knowledge is power, and knowing more about your vehicle is good for anybody.
Of course, it may seem a bit stereotypical to include a beauty salon in an auto shop just because it’s for women, but those stereotypes might also give it part of its potential to change the way people look at gender in the auto industry. By making such a traditionally feminine space part of an auto shop, the Girl’s Auto Clinic encourages us to ask ourselves: if this beauty salon is considered feminine, why can’t the mechanic side of it be feminine too?