Women have many countless contributions to every segment of society, including the auto glass industry. In fact, the first windshield wiper was invented by Mary Anderson in the early 1900s. Today glassBYTEs is celebrating International Women’s Day by highlighting a few women in the automotive glass industry.
Emily Jackson, marketing director for Mygrant Glass headquartered in Hayward, Calif., says today is a day that women get to celebrate their successes. “Each and every day we have the ability to achieve something, even with small feats whether it’s a win with the team or individually,” she says.
Although Jackson and the company don’t have any formal celebration plans, the company’s leadership allows women to be highlighted every day. “It’s interesting because Mygrant Glass is family-owned and, of course, Cathy Mygrant, is the co-owner and pillar of the company along with her daughter,” says Jackson. “As a company we get to celebrate everyday through our leadership team.”
Sandra Smiley-Carrique, owner of Smiley’s Glass located in Richmond, Va., says she recently heard that today was International Women’s Day and isn’t planning on doing anything to celebrate. She notes that this Monday is like all of the others – busy. “Things have been super busy since we’ve had two ice storms,” says Smiley-Carrique. “By far the biggest challenge after trying to get it all done is trying to find glass!”
“I think it’s extremely important to have International Women’s Day, because when we look at the industry generally we look at the business owner as being a man or even a glass installer, a lot of the advertising is male focused too,” Jackson says. “We don’t often get to see women who are doing repairs and replacements. I’ve been fortunate to meet several women, including business owners in the auto glass industry and I think having a day to highlight all of us [women] is needed.”
Despite their many contributions to the automotive sector, women are still underrepresented as a group. According to a 2018 report by AIA Canada, women comprise 9.5% of workers in the mechanical sector and 10.2% in the collision sector. The majority of them are employed as customer service representatives (44.8%), followed by service advisors (21.5%), detailers (21.3%) and store managers (16.8%).
“We have some amazing women owner-operators around our network who run successful glass, collision and mechanical repair facilities,” says Steve Leal, president of Fix Network World, headquartered in Blainville, QC. “Many of them started their career in either the front office or the shop floor, eventually learning all aspects of the trade to start their own body shop or take over their family’s business. As an industry, I believe that we can take solid steps to increase women’s participation across all types of roles within the sector.”
Leal says the following steps can be taken:
- Find opportunities to mentor students, particularly young women, when they’re in middle school and high school to show them what the industry has to offer and the career options available to them.
- Demonstrate the relevance of auto-related career paths to women interested in engineering and technology, and other STEM-related professions.
- Use occasions such as International Women’s Day to highlight the stories of successful women in this industry so that young girls can see first-hand what’s possible and have role models to help guide their career decisions.