By Sergio Adrian Angeles
Queretaro, Mexico, Mar 10 (EFE)- Maria Fernanda Ornelas checks under the hood of a car and tightens some screws at the W Racing Point Garage in this central highland city, one of the few auto repair shops in Mexico that is entirely female-owned and operated.
After inspecting the engine, she uses a hydraulic jack to raise the vehicle and then lies down on a wheel-driven creeper to get under its belly.
Once she’s properly positioned, Ornelas stretches her arms and gets to work repairing the car – an Audi that a customer will be picking up that afternoon.
Although just over 20 years of age, her experienced hands are the key to keeping customers of W Racing Point Garage happy and getting their vehicles back in tip-top shape.
Ornelas says the presence of that garage in a country where male-chauvinist attitudes and labor discrimination are still commonplace sends a message to the entire population about women’s mechanical capabilities.
“Yes, we can (do car repair). We often need to learn some tricks and have tools on hand that help us exert more force, and things like that. But, yes we can. Anyone who studies and works at it can do it,” the young woman told Efe.
The mere existence of that Queretaro-based garage, where six women are employed, serves to smash stereotypes that perpetuate the idea that auto repair is the exclusive domain of men.
The founder of W Racing Point Garage is Sonia Luna Chavez, who told Efe in an interview that she worked for 37 years at the Mexico City-based National Polytechnic Institute.
She spent almost a third of that time contributing to a gender studies unit that looks to promote a culture of equality and reflects on the challenges women face in a male-dominated labor market.
Luna Chavez noted that hundreds of women study mechanical engineering in Mexico but end up leaving that profession when they seek work in the automotive industry and are only offered low-level administrative positions.
She added that those women find the doors are closed to them even when they have the same degrees and qualifications as male applicants.
“I feel very proud … because six months after opening this repair shop we’ve broken the mold. The idea is to come up with something different, to innovate,” Luna Chavez said on International Women’s Day, which was celebrated on Tuesday.
She added that her garage also offers a workshop where women can train to be automobile mechanics.
“They come to us for practical (guidance) because they say schools give them lots of theory but they don’t feel like they learn enough,” the garage’s founding director said.
Ornelas, for her part, has found in the W Racing Point Garage the ideal place to pursue a passion that dates back to when her father would buy old cars and repair them at home.
Besides delivering high-quality service to customers, W Racing Point Garage also offers a free basic auto mechanics course to all women interested in learning more about their vehicles.
“In this workshop, women of all ages are taught to be in control of their car, to know (how it works), know how to change a tire, how to check oil levels,” Luna Chavez said. EFE