Donning red stilettos, one mechanic is working to change the way women are treated by the car industry.
Patrice Banks, of Philadelphia, is an auto mechanic and a former engineer who holds free monthly workshops, focused on teaching women the ins and outs of cars. The program, which is part of Banks' business, Girls Auto Clinic, aims to break down the stereotypes surrounding women and cars, and work toward equal treatment at the repair shop, where women are sometimes taken advantage of, CBS News reported.
"As their biggest customers, women have a lot of power to disrupt [the auto] industry," Banks explained in a blog post she wrote for the Washington Post. "We can arm ourselves with the knowledge to protect both our wallets and our vehicles from overpriced parts and unnecessary repairs."
Banks said that before becoming a mechanic, she often felt like she was being manipulated when getting her car fixed. In her blog post, she cited a survey from 2013 in which 66 percent of respondents said they think mechanics charge women higher prices than men for the same work. Indeed, women are often charged more than men when they are uninformed about the repair, a 2013 study by researchers at Northwestern University revealed.
"Women who call up and say they have no idea what the price ought to be are quoted higher prices than men who call up and say, 'I have no idea what the price ought to be,'" Meghan Busse, associate professor of management and strategy at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, explained to U.S. News and World Report.
It's this inequality that propelled Banks to begin taking classes to become a mechanic and later start Girls Auto Clinic in 2013.
"Becoming a mechanic wouldn’t just save me hundreds of dollars on unnecessary and inadequate repairs, it also would allow me to save other women from the same fate," she wrote in the blog post.
At workshops, she discusses car basics and answers different questions like "What is the purpose of coolant?" and "What do the letters on the side of my tire mean?" in a digestible way, according to the Girls Auto Clinic website. And, she does it all in a pair of red high heels, Philly.com reported.
Learning about cars isn't just practical; Banks says with car knowledge, she feels powerful.
"You know, the first time I was able to change my light bulbs I felt so good," Banks told CBS. "You know, it was like, 'I am woman, hear me roar. Patrice: 1, Car: 0' kind of a thing. I felt like I won. I didn't feel defeated by it anymore."
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