Industry Designs Programs to Attract Women to the Industry
By Emmariah Holcomb
Women are strong, smart and fearless, but there’s just one large problem.
Women have been, and still are, underrepresented in the auto glass industry.
Fortunately for them, some companies have taken steps to showcase their
talents with programs geared just for women.
Who Rocks–Women Rock
“I wanted to create a program that sets the bar for the industry because some of the best auto glass installers are women,” Shiloh Spoo, GlasWeld president says. He created #WomenRockRepair to help support and guide women both entering the industry and those who have been in it for years. The idea started at last years’ Auto Glass Week competition awards ceremony when he and a few others noticed most of the award winners were men. “I approached Shiloh with Suzanne Allen to create a group that highlights women. Shiloh took the idea and ran with it,” Alicia Maples, co-owner of Fix-A-Crack Windshield Repair & Replacement, says. In just a few months the once small idea ballooned into a movement. “We wanted the program to be meaningful and lasting but had no idea it would be this big so soon,” Spoo says. #WomenRockRepair is a sponsorship program too, it takes care of Windshield Repair Competition entry fees and provides training opportunities from experts in the field. “It’s a huge game changer for women and it’s blowing up the auto glass industry,” says Suzanne Allen, Suzanne’s Windshield Repair, owner. Allowing women to grow and advance in any male-dominated profession is an accomplishment, and GlasWeld isn’t the only company that’s striving to help more women enter the industry.
Women–Future and Current Scholars
The Dwyer Group’s Women in the Trades scholarship program has been on the move since 2012. “We’ve wanted to help attract women to the trades for some time now,” Dina Dwyer-Owens, Dwyer Group Brand Ambassador and board member, says. But this wasn’t the first time the company tried to launch such an inititative. “In the early 2000’s we tried to launch a program, but it wasn’t successful because we didn’t know what media outlet to use,” Dwyer-Owens says. At that time social media wasn’t as prevalent as it is now and putting ads out in papers weren’t enough. After a television debut, the program took off. “It wasn’t until our Undercover Boss episode aired, that we started getting more women who were interested in joining the industry,” Dwyer-Owens says. The company that was once struggling to grab women’s attention was now getting flooded with hundreds of
women calling looking to find their way into auto glass. Currently the Women in the Trades program awards scholarships to five women every semester. The scholarship helps pay for materials, educational programs and other resources they need when gaining their education in the auto glass business. Still, Dwyer-Owens says she had hoped for more interest. “We still just don’t receive enough applications,” she says. “Our goal is six per semester, but there have been times when we only get three or four qualified candidates. Yes, we have gotten a lot better recently, which is great—this past May we awarded seven scholarships.” The scholarship program will focus on raising awareness even higher. “How do we educate and get the word out is the biggest reoccurring question we have. Hopefully we will continue to get more applicants with our next deadline, November 15,” Dwyer-Owens says.
Women–On the Move
There’s even a female initiative that’s making headway overseas. The Women Ahead program offers mentorship opportunities for women in the industry. It believes bringing diversity will be a benefit to organizations and society as a whole. Belron, among many
others, helps mentor the participants. “What began as a mission to develop the pipeline
and parity of women in leadership roles in sport has continued to broaden under the Moving Ahead banner. Our wider aim is to contribute to an inclusive society in which individuals and organizations can achieve their potential,” founder and CEO, Liz Dimmock, says. According to the company, Women Ahead partners with the 30 Percent Club, a CEO-led gender diversity campaign. “Companies wishing to achieve a greater level of equality of opportunity, typically find that mentoring is the most effective means of breaking down gender barriers,” the company says. Auto Glass–Empowering Women “This was not a career I was initially interested in because it was my husband’s career for the last 13 years, but I’m glad I have a spot in this industry,” Allen says. Now a few years have gone by and she’s enjoying the repair and replacement side of auto glass. “So many people in the industry inherit it or learn on the job but that wasn’t the case for me,” Maples says. The former corporate America worker was now rolling up her sleeves to work with confidence. “It’s funny because when I would go out and do sales in auto body shops, many of the men would look at me with skepticism because I was talking about auto glass. I loved it because I was able to speak to them on their level. And now customers love when they get to see me, a woman, working on their glass repairs,” she adds. Many in the industry agree that women have an eye for detail, are patient, and work well under pressure, all of these characteristics make for a great auto glass technician. “Women don’t need to be intimidated about this industry,” says Maples. “Since my husband has been in the hospital, I’ve been doing all of the repairs on my own and they’ve been going well.” “Women get the opportunity to shine with help from programs geared just for us,” Maples adds.
Setting Up for Success
All of these programs have been widely accepted thus far. “Since we’ve started this program, the most rewarding experience is getting to see the confidence grow in so many women. There have been women who started in the industry just a few months ago who have been excelling at installs and who have a great eye for detail,” Spoo says.
Emmariah Holcomb is the editorial assistant for AGRR.
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