Wyo Tech Women In Tech Club 637694f8b4b8d

What female vehicle repair students want from future employers

Nov. 21, 2022
Female technicians are ready to work, but is the industry ready for them? Three female students at auto & diesel school WyoTech share their expectations for life in the shop.

It's a commonly known fact that the commercial vehicle maintenance industry does not maintain much gender diversity—as it's estimated only 2% of technicians are female— but schools such as WyoTech in Laramie, Wyoming, are working to change that statistic. WyoTech CEO Jim Mathis shared that recent enrollment showed up to 8% of the student population is female, and that the industry will stand to benefit.

“We’re looking for more because they are awesome,” he said. “And they’re smarter and more detail-oriented—and easier on equipment and tools and everything else. We want more, and the opportunities for them are limitless.” 

So, who are the female technicians who will be coming into the workforce, and what does the industry need to do to prepare for their arrival to keep them? Fleet Maintenance caught up with Kaygen Bogle, Jade Bovee, and Maggie Daskam, all of whom received the Jessi Combs Foundation (JFC) scholarship this year, to discuss why they entered the field, what excites them, and how they can best be supported as they head to the shop floor.

See also: FedEx Freight’s Pinter wins TMCSuperTech for 2nd time, while runner up Greenwood makes history

Inspiration and engagement

When it comes to technician recruitment, and not just for females, reaching students early and dispelling myths about what it means to be involved in commercial vehicle maintenance is critical. At the very least, it was for Bogle, Bovee, and Daskam.

“My friends, family, and high school shop teacher encouraged me to pursue the best education I could get in the collision industry,” said Bovee, a student in the collision refinishing and street rod programs at WyoTech. 

These supporters challenged her "to go past my limits and be the best I can be," Bovee said.

For Daskam and Bogle, having access to early courses through community college and supportive high school teachers were key in leading them to WyoTech. In these areas, their natural passion could be nurtured and flourish before introducing them to higher vocational training.

“My high performance and fabrication [specialty] programs are inspired by my passion for fast cars,” said Daskam, whose core focus is diesel technology. “I own an old Camaro and it has been the best challenge for me.”

For Bogle, staying engaged and entrenched in her program is a matter of passion and excitement, both in her collision and refinishing courses and street rod specialty program.

“[I am excited to] learn more about painting and different ways to paint,” said Bogle. “[And] learning how to use machinery to bend and shape metal into different things.”

Overcoming challenges

For all three women, sometimes the greatest barrier to their success is simply that they’re not thought of as potential technician in the first place, even when in a more inviting environment such as WyoTech.

Daskam said some people "might be really confused why you pursued a career in a male-dominated field."

“But at the end of the day that’s not my problem that they are confused," she asserted. "It’s something I love and I’m sticking with it!”

All that Bogle needed for a chance to succeed in the industry was an opportunity to prove she was where she was meant to be.

“I started out in a body shop in Ohio,” Bogle recalled. “They would only let me sweep the floors and clean. I realized quickly that is not what I wanted in a body shop. I really needed a job with a boss that would give me the opportunity that I wanted and needed.”

Bovee said seeing more women in the shop, especially ones with experience who can mentor their new counterparts, is a key factor to making the repair and maintenance bays more welcoming.

"It gives us more confidence and comfort that if another woman can do it, we can do it as well,” Bovee explained. “Furthermore, it gives us that mentor to look up to [along with] the strength to enter this line of work.”

Bogle was able to find that in another shop owner who gave her the opportunity to help in the paint booth, where her abilities were quickly recognized. At 18, she became the lead painter at the shop as well as the youngest person and only female to be hired.

Staying in the game

As with all technicians, keeping these women in the field means continuing to provide them with opportunities to improve themselves and acknowledging the work they do.

“I am looking for an employer to value my skills and be able to extend my capabilities to further my knowledge and experience in this line of work,” Bovee explained.

Daskam agreed, stating that upon graduation, she wants to work for an organization that encourages their technicians’ growth, allowing them the time to be the best they can be.

If the industry can do that, then finding more women like Daskam, Bovee, and Bogle could make the technician shortage a thing of the past.

“It gives me a chance to see other women in the same field as me, having the same challenges and how to overcome these challenges that they already have,” Bogle said. “It makes me excited to see what I can do in the future, and that I can do anything I want.”

About the Author

Alex Keenan

Alex Keenan is an Associate Editor for Fleet Maintenance magazine. She has written on a variety of topics for the past several years and recently joined the transportation industry, reviewing content covering technician challenges and breaking industry news. She holds a bachelor's degree in English from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. 

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