Belles and Whistles
A new mechanics' group
Belles and Whistles is an organization of women interested in using family vehicles, cars, vans, and small trucks, safely and cost effectively over the long term. Of course being interested in scenery and driving pleasure, and having interest in energy conservation, their main interests are in learning the fundamentals of car maintenance and elementary repair. Having control over their major mode of transportation, protecting their jobs, providing for the needs of their family or children, making timely arrivals, and diversifying their interests - these are all parts of the Group orientation and purpose.
Now that there are many broken marriages, many single women, and life styles are changing rapidly, car maintenance and repair is no longer a "man's role."
Knowing what's under the hood - understanding some of the bells and whistles - and knowing what to do to keep a car running are key objectives of every car owner/operator, especially women. Knowing what to do when the car or small truck stops is important to them. The rural or wildland interest is that of gaining control over one part of the total outdoor experience, being sure that it is pleasant, and avoiding the nagging fear of being caught far from the main road and not knowing what to do with a small automotive difficulty. This fear, of course, can exist anywhere. Eliminating it is one objective of the group and one reason for its existence. There may be substantial financial gains as well as positive attachments for a segment of the populations to all of the concerns of Rural System.
Local dealerships or shops may sponsor the group, provide spaces, and gain major public relations advantages.
The main group activities suggested are:
- Regular evening and weekend school sessions (tuition)
- Specialized classes
- "Field Trips" to local mechanics and places of interest
- Group trips (caravans) to scenic areas
- Irregular conferences or entire-group meetings with invited speakers, police, movies, etc.
- Equipment and supplies sales with local stores (with discounts for members)
- Sale of the ultimate minimum tool kit for travel
- Subscription to key publications (with discounts and/or organization benefits)
- Group "checkups" - meeting in which a members car is "gone over" by members to be sure it is safe and can avoid maintenance difficulties
- Contests for members (diagnostic, performance, etc., written, etc.) with prizes
- Road and driving safety contests (written or oral)
- Local safe-driving contests
- Relevant video sales
- Software for drivers (tests, advice, expert systems, car purchase decisions, driver games; commercial or to be designed and developed)
- Child/youth seat sales and installation
- Website with advertising - helpful tips, notices, reminders
- Sale of coveralls, cleaners, gloves, etc.,
- Sale of membership emblems (clothing, bumper, window)
- Car wash (with membership discount)
- Sale of car security information and systems
- Checkups for proposed used-car purchase (fees)
- Work with The 4 x 4 Group
- Access to benefits of all the other Rural System groups
The barriers to Women Working with Cars and Small Trucks
Once the barriers are clearly seen, then they can be broken.
- Lack of female role models
- Expense of equipment
- Past or existing male role models
- Social pressure from peers
- Pressure from mechanics, etc. that see this as a man's job
- Raised in a "non-rough-work" tradition
- Turned off by "slob" experiences
- Lack of information
- Lack of time
- Perception that the work is dangerous
- Perception that the work is always dirty
- Fear of looking stupid
- Fear that the costs will be too great
- Fear that the results will be poor and very costly
- Fear of seeming to compete with men
- (or Fear of seeming to compete with a single special person)
- Lack of a place to work
- Refusal to work where mechanics now work
- Fear of injury
- Not strong enough
Send suggestions for others to Giles at e-mail below. I'll include your name if you wish.
The Strategies to Breach the Barriers
- Problem solving groups; tackle them one at a time
- Utilize most of the above ideas related to education and experiences. These have been produced in response to the perceived barriers. There are many other opportunities and experiments.
- Bring youth (especially young girls) in with you into special programs and activities.
- Promote a "Take Dad to the Shop" evening to show off the program and personal progress.
- Promote Belles in the press and other media.
- Develop clothing and equipment that are suitable for women.
- Promote cost savings and the new role in the family.
- Establish a mentoring program (experienced with inexperienced)
Have a hot line in addition to the web site for emergencies and quick questions.
|dragons to slay
- Promote demonstrations and seminars.
- Form partnerships with other organizations and agencies.
Suggestions and contacts are requested. Contact R.H. Giles 540-552-8672.
Return to the top.
Virginia Women in the Outdoors is an organization sponsored by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Richmond. It sponsors workshops for women to learn the outdoor skills usually associated with hunting or fishing but useful in a variety of outdoor pursuits. It is especially designed to help women enjoy the outdoors and become active participants in the world of wildlife recreation.
Perhaps you will share ideas with me about some of the topic(s) above .
Robert H. Giles, Jr.
July 3, 2005