The Cafe at On The Issues Online Magazine is deepening the conversations by continually adding the insights of progressive writers, thinkers and artists on the topics we address. Check back frequently for new commentary. If you wish to contribute to the Cafe, email [email protected].

We’re now taking comments in The CAFE! Join the discussion.

 

It's generally called "nontraditional" employment women working in jobs that are mostly held by men. While becoming an auto mechanic may be a nontraditional career path for most women, in another sense, it was a totally traditional choice for Audra Fordin. She stepped into the boots of her auto-mechanic father, grandfather and great-grandfather, carrying on the 80-year-old family tradition of auto repair.

In Car Repair is Women's Work, our Feature Video Story, writer and videographer Ann Farmer shows "Equality Under the Hood." She uses her camera to follow Fordin, a mother and mechanic, into the grease pit of her garage in Queens, New York, and gives us a moving glimpse of exactly what's involved in the job.

The U.S. Department of Labor defines a nontraditional career as one in which at least 75 percent of the work force is of the opposite sex. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 799,000 "automotive service technicians and mechanics" in the U.S. in 2009 -- only 1.8 percent were women. Of the 163, 000 "automotive body and related repairers," only 1.5 percent were women. (There are even more women aircraft mechanics and service technicians 3.8 percent of 142,000.)

However many female colleagues are in the garages of America, Fordin herself is completely at ease with lug wrenches and work gloves: to see her at work on Farmer's video leaves no doubt. Why aren't there more women mechanics Fordin throws up her hands: "I don't know," she says emphatically. "I do it. So I can tell you first-hand: It's not that hard." She has even begun teaching a course to help other women get up to speed on their vehicle parts and maintenance. Calling the session What Women Auto-Know, Fordin donates a portion of the proceeds to fix the cars of women in need.

Although On The Issues Magazine frequently incorporates video interviews, trailers and art, this short feature marks the first independently commissioned video for our Online publication. Videographer Ann Farmer is a Brooklyn-based freelance journalist who covers local news for The New York Times and writes about culture, law and other topics for several print publications.

Do you have or know a story of of "nontraditional" employment Contact us with a link to your videos about nontraditional jobs, and we'll consider it for On The Issues Magazine's You Tube Channel and featured status on our website.

August 9, 2010