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For many females in the trades, being one of the few women in the room is a common occurrence. Despite this, women are excelling in the industry and empowering their female counterparts to do the same, including one of our very own instructors, Stacey Evans.
Stacey is a female instructor at our NASCAR Technical Institute campus, where she currently teaches Professional Service Writing, Brakes, Automotive Engines & Repair and Climate Control. When Stacey is not at the Mooresville campus teaching, she is part of a race team and is a true gearhead.
As a female in a predominantly male industry, Stacey is an amazing example of someone who is helping to break the stigma associated with women working in the trades. Read along as Stacey shares her story, what it’s like to be a female in a male-dominated industry, how she overcame obstacles to get to where she is today and more.
For as long as she can remember, Stacey has always had a curiosity about the mechanics behind how things work. “I was always one of those types that would tear stuff apart to see how it worked and put it back together,” she says. This trait is something that seems to have been passed down in her family for several generations.
When she was young, Stacey’s dad took her to a race track and she fell in love with it all: the cars, the atmosphere and the excitement. She wanted to one day have her own, and in order to do so, she realized she needed to know how to work on cars herself. “I didn’t want to depend on anyone to work on them for me,” she says. This initial love for racing is what marked the beginning of her career in the automotive industry.
At the age of 12, Stacey started making plans for the future. She immersed herself in the industry, spending countless hours at the racetrack and soaking up all of the knowledge she could. In fact, Stacey can’t recall a time she wasn’t earning a living being around cars. “The only way I’ve ever been paid my whole lifetime has been through automobiles, whether I was working on cars or running a service station.”
After graduating high school on a Friday night, Stacey found herself starting at a tech school for automotive mechanics the next Monday morning. As she attended school, she worked in a variety of roles in order to gain as much experience as she could. Her experience includes working in independent shops, service stations, dealerships and, of course, at the racetrack. Her roles varied from technician to service writer to service manager. She also raced dirt-track, late-model stock cars for years.
Stacey’s hard work, passion and diligence certainly showed, as she was granted several awards throughout her years working in the industry. As a young woman in the field, this gained the attention of many.
While Stacey’s experience working in the field includes different roles, a common thread among them was that no matter where she was, she was always training people. “Whatever job I worked at, whether it was in parts or at a dealership, I always had to train somebody.” Stacey’s natural ability to teach others is exactly what led to her becoming a beloved instructor at NASCAR Technical Institute, where she has been investing in her students for over 10 years now.
When asked to describe her favorite part of being an instructor, Stacey says, “When the light finally comes on, it’s amazing.” After spending hours in the classroom, it’s incredible to see students grasp the concepts they’ve been learning. Stacey says it’s also rewarding when her students come back and thank her for teaching them how to think. Seeing her students succeed in their careers and applying what they learned in her class makes it all worth it.
So what’s it like being a female in a male-dominated industry? According to Stacey, it comes with its own set of challenges.
“It’s easier now, but at first, it was difficult,” she says. She first experienced this when working at the racetrack as a teen. However, Stacey found that the only way to push through these challenges was to combat them with hard work. “Once you could prove that you were capable and were there for the right reasons, there was no reason for anyone to have doubts.”
According to Stacey, succeeding in the industry as a woman requires you to be meticulous and detail-oriented. “As a woman, you have to prove yourself,” she says. In her experience, Stacey found that the people she worked with weren't quite as challenging as some of her customers. Her customers would often be skeptical at first, but once they became aware of her qualifications and skill, she was usually the only one they would talk to.
While many women are excelling in the trades, they continue to face challenges that their male colleagues don’t have to consider.
“People are always skeptical,” Stacey says. When working at a parts place in North Carolina, Stacey encountered a lot of doubt. However, within several months of working there, she found that she gained the trust of both her coworkers and customers.
“Customers would walk by five guys to come talk to me because they knew I could tell them what they needed,” she says. Working in the parts department often requires dealing with very complex issues, and Stacey’s ability to explain the problem and walk her customers through the solution helped her to shine. Customers would seek her services because she’s a woman, not in spite of it.
Trust seems to be a recurring theme, and Stacey shared that earning the trust of her students has been critical to her success as a female instructor. “You have to gain their trust and show them that you have a clue, and that you’re there to help,” she says. It’s about the heart — and Stacey’s story is proof that if the motive behind what you’re doing is to help people, you’ll go far.
There’s no doubt that women are the minority in the skilled trades, but according to Stacey, there’s something special about what women can bring to the table. “As a woman, you’re often more detailed and accurate,” she says. Women typically aren’t in a rush for everything — which can be of incredible value in this industry.
Stacey’s philosophy has always been “If it’s not right, it’s not going out,” which ensures that the quality of work is never compromised. This attention to detail that comes naturally for many women is needed in today’s fast-paced industry, which often doesn’t leave room for mistakes.
When you take the time to do things right, this allows you to gain trust as a professional, which is key to advancing in the field. Stacey shared with us that she works on each one of her customers’ cars in the same way that she would want someone to work on her mom’s car. Adopting this mindset and taking pride in every project she works on has been critical to her success.
When asked what advice she would give to females who are considering a career in the trades, Stacey says, “If it’s truly what you want to do, push for it and be the best you can possibly be. It’s the only way to get ahead.”
The negativity of others can pull you down, but if this field is what you want, you have to work hard and go for it. Despite the doubt of her parents, Stacey knew that a career in the automotive industry was the only thing she was interested in or dreamed about. Staying true to her passion, she sought out the training and experience she needed to get ahead.
As a vocational school instructor, Stacey always encourages her students to look at the big picture. Her goal is to teach them how to think versus just focusing on the mechanics. She says, “It’s not a memorization game. You have to learn the system before you can fix it. Anybody can replace parts, but in order to be successful, you have to know how to think about it.”
Stacey shared that she encourages her students — or anyone interested in the trade — to dream big. “You’re not limited to working on cars,” she says. “You can go anywhere and do anything with it, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be cars. It could be tractors, motorcycles or boats. It’s still an engine.” The industry is full of opportunities, and once you have the knowledge and training you need, you can build upon it as you go into the field and chase your dreams — just like Stacey did.
Interested in learning the skills used by automotive technicians and racing teams? Learn more about NASCAR Technical Institute.
Meet Bogi Lateiner, host of All Girls Garage, owner of 180 Degrees Automotive in Phoenix and graduate from Universal Technical Institute.
Veronica Anderson is the first female automotive technician at Mercedes-Benz of Chicago. And she's only 19! Now you can read her inspiring story.
What kind of advice would a NASCAR Technical Institute instructor give to himself back when he was in high school? Find out here.
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12) Based on data compiled from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections (2016-2026), www.bls.gov, viewed October 24, 2017. The projected number of annual job openings, by job classification is: Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, 75,900; Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists, 28,300; Automotive Body and Related Repairers, 17,200. Job openings include openings due to growth and net replacements.
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