“Nontraditional”: A Video Makes a Car Job Seem Auto-Matic

“Nontraditional”: A Video Makes a Car Job Seem Auto-Matic

by the Editors

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

The Editors


Merle Hoffman's Choices: A Post-Roe Abortion Rights Manifesto

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“Merle Hoffman has always known that in a democracy, we each have decision-making power over the fate of our own bodies. She is a national hero for us all.” —Gloria Steinem

In the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe V. Wade and a country divided, Merle Hoffman, a pioneer in the pro-choice movement and women’s healthcare, offers an unapologetic and authoritative take on abortion calling it “the front line and the bottom line of women’s freedom and liberty.” 

Merle Hoffman has been at the forefront of the reproductive freedom movement since the 1970s. Three years before the Supreme Court legalized abortion through Roe v. Wade, she helped to establish one of the United States’ first abortion centers in Flushing, Queens, and later went on to found Choices, one of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive women’s medical facilities. For the last five decades, Hoffman has been a steadfast warrior and fierce advocate for every woman’s right to choose when and whether or not to be a mother.