On Wanting to be a Woman Bike Mechanic
January 6, 2017 12:26 PM   Subscribe

Sadly, bike shops are like any other other niche aspect of service industry, be they bookstores, game shops, eateries, or even online forums.

Without an environment that implicitly welcomes a mix of different talents (with a strong level of moderation against frisson), there's going to be the risk of a clubhouse attitude, or worse yet, a Diogenean shrine to a single proprietor's ego.

Bike shops aren't simply parts and service outlets, with enthusiasm, advice and a bulletin board full of route maps and event sign up sheets; they invariably lean toward a particular set of brand distributors and riding styles, which adopt a more stringent role as selling points as overhead piles up. That's plenty enough margin for toxicity, which is those same conditions can turn other purchasing outlets/gathering places/venues for consumption into self-centered hellholes.
posted by Smart Dalek at 12:49 PM on January 6, 2017 [6 favorites]

GODDAMN IT! I am pretty happy with my gender from a biological/psychological standpoint, BUT I AM SICK AND GODDAMN TIRED OF BEING EMBARRASSED OF IT in pretty much any other context.
posted by Samizdata at 12:58 PM on January 6, 2017 [19 favorites]

Woo! Andrea Smith is awesome. Side Saddle is is the only bike-shop I can send female customers to without worrying that they will be condescended to.

The latent sexism in the bike business is quite a problem. Shrink It & Pink It is a very real thing still. Far too often so-called "women's bikes" are exactly the same as the men's models, but with pink accents or flowers; instead of having a geometry which accommodates the differences between most men's and women's anatomies.

I swear that I sell 3-4 bikes every week in the summer-time to female riders who have been shopping around, and are stunned to encounter a sales-person who actually listens to them, and doesn't address their questions to the boyfriend.

I expect to open my bike store at it's new location within the next two weeks, and am actively seeking out women as employees, for the very reasons addressed in the article. I was planning on having a women-only basic-maintenance class monthly, but now I am stealing the trans and non-binary idea. So thanks for finding this, and opening my eyes to the need to questions one's own unthinking assumptions.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 1:14 PM on January 6, 2017 [62 favorites]

“So much of this program, which has meant to be about empowering women, has been about making sure the men’s feelings aren’t hurt,” Shewfelt says.

This is such a big thing in all kinds of social justice work, trying to help less privileged groups but getting derailed by the dominant folks upset that suddenly everything isn't about them or for them anymore.
posted by smirkette at 1:19 PM on January 6, 2017 [26 favorites]

Sadly, bike shops are like any other other niche aspect of service industry, be they bookstores, game shops, eateries, or even online forums.

Sure, but this isn't just another "assholes gonna asshole" thing, it's misogyny. The article takes care to acknowledge as much: "Bike shops are known for being snobby, patronizing bastions of bro culture. Customers often complain that mechanics and sales staff talk down to them, assuming that women in particular have no mechanical knowledge about their bicycles. Casual sexism is a serious problem in the bike scene as a whole."

Said casual sexism is rooted in the notion that women are ~*naturally*~ disinclined to (in this case) pursue mechanical work, or know anything about bicycles, and that if they pursue it anyway, they certainly won't be any good at it, because women, amirite? And the effects of those sorts of beliefs go beyond the general toxicity of your average self-centered hellhole because they are intended to marginalize women specifically. Don't you think it's odd to that "a clubhouse attitude" in this particular environment just so happened to repeatedly manifest as rank displays of male dominance? I feel like (f'rex) making your only female employee go run and get sandwiches for her male co-workers is a pretty obviously gendered power play, and don't agree that it can be handwaved away as yet another example of how insular professions tend to be rife with douchebaggery.
posted by amnesia and magnets at 1:25 PM on January 6, 2017 [29 favorites]

I'm probably overstepping a little, but I'd like to point out that my wife does a podcast about women in brewing, who face many of the same "bro-culture" issues as it looks like women in cycling do. Lots of the stories in this article map 1:1 into a lot of what I've heard, through her, on the podcast.
posted by Shepherd at 1:25 PM on January 6, 2017 [18 favorites]

Well this is timely. Two weeks from today marks the end of sixteen years in the bike (and outdoor) industry for me. I know at least one of the people in the article (I'm guessing I've spoken on the phone to more of them) and can probably name every woman in every shop I've ever worked with. When they leave (and they always leave), the rest of us in the industry make a silent note of it. When I leave, there will be zero women in non-office roles at this company. Leaving is hard. I feel like I'm giving up and leaving my compatriots in the muck of it while I make my escape. The ladies who seek each other out at Interbike, slip each other tiny bottles of bourbon and gin at trade shows, hug with great affection, and do favors big and small for each other. They are the ones I will miss. They are the one reason I'm sad to leave.

The best bike mechanic I've ever known is a woman. She works in medical research now. The best people I've known in this industry have left or are burning out rapidly. Having to work so much harder to earn the same respect in a field dominated by men is sadly not anything new, but the general disrespect from both fellow employees and customers is more acute in a profession where you work with your hands. (How many female auto mechanics do you know? Electricians? Construction managers?) Add to this the incredibly difficult task of making a living in a bike shop where wages are already low and benefits are often not available? UBI-trained mechanics tend to make more than your average wrencher, but reduce that to 70whatever % that women make and remove benefits and it's a hard pill to swallow.

This exit from the industry took four years of planning. I had to go back to school to make myself "hire-able" outside the industry. In two weeks my salary goes up 50%, I will have medical/dental/vision insurance for the first time in five years through an employer, I will get to take vacation, and I will never again have the following conversation on the daily:
Me: "Hello, thank you for calling Company X. This is support."
A Man: "Can I talk to someone with technical knowledge?"
Me: "Yes, that's me. What is your question?"
A Man: "..."
Me: "Hello, are you still there?"
A Man: "...well I guess I can start with you."

I mean, I'm sure I'll still hear similar crap, but it won't be every day.
posted by komlord at 1:51 PM on January 6, 2017 [66 favorites]

Thirty years ago I was a young woman who took a job in a bicycle shop because I was seriously into bicycling. And I wanted to be a mechanic. It was a pretty miserable experience and it sounds like not much has changed, apart from these few stores and programs.

Going into this I was a pretty hardcore bicyclist who fixed my own bikes, and I had long been keeping up with all the new technology and products. And once I started, I quickly realized that I had been paying more attention to that stuff than anyone else in the shop. Hardly any of them even cared about bicycles.

The shop owner was a sexist asshole and a condescending prick. The hazing and off color remarks were over the top. But when he said he was impressed at my skills with tools and that he had decided it would be a good test of his own skills, to see if he could teach me to be a bicycle mechanic, I stifled my desire to tell him off, for the opportunity offered. Well, not long after that he told me he couldn't do it after all, because he couldn't afford to have the other mechanics quit and they wouldn't work with me. So I remained on the sales floor.

But it wasn't just the shop owner and mechanics. On the sales floor, customers would ask questions that I knew the answers to, and then not listen to my answer, instead they'd be looking to any random male that happened to be in the vicinity. They could NOT see me as any sort of authority. It wasn't just men who did this, in fact the women were even worse about it. And when the shop was empty the owner would hoot at me and say of course no one wants to talk to a bicycle nerd. There were two other women who worked there and neither of them ever spoke much, and they kept their eyes down, like good little victims.

It was a horrible job, culminating in a layoff when the season ended. They called me the next spring to see if I'd come back, but I didn't go. It was minimum wage, harassment, and disrespect all the way through. Why sign up for that? Night shifts at the liquor store paid better and people were nicer even though it took me forever to learn all the names of different kinds of booze and cigarettes.

The crazy thing is, there are more women cyclists than men! Despite the boys club and the crappy shrink and pink equipment! Grrr!
posted by elizilla at 1:58 PM on January 6, 2017 [29 favorites]

I'm not mechanical but I was so glad to be steered to a welcoming shop (that sold Jamis women's bikes, which DO have female-oriented geometry) when I lived in SF. It was such a difference to not feel crazy stress just getting my bike services.
posted by dame at 2:01 PM on January 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Since this is not an Ask I won't use this comment space to beg you knowledgable women cyclist types for recommendations for women's bikes. Hopefully it's ok to message some of ya'll and ask because I love biking but hate bike shops and don't know where to begin. And I *really* hate dropping that much cash while being condescended to. Bad enough to put up with when I buy a car, would be nice to avoid it getting a bike. In general, I just don't trust dudes to talk to me about bikes.

Also I am sad that you can't all band together to be a force for badass women cyclists, with a secret lair and stuff.
posted by emjaybee at 2:12 PM on January 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

Men had, in the past, stood out front on program days, hollering violent, gendered abuse
Geez who the heck has this kind of time.

komlord: "(How many female auto mechanics do you know? Electricians?"

Something like <10% of new Canadian Red Seal Electricians are currently women (the percentage was much, much lower 30 years ago) which means they are pretty few and far between in the field. Not only because of the low entry rate but also higher burn out because of sexism. I had the great luck to start with a company that was something like 25% women and the contrast with subsequent workplaces has been mind blowing on occasion. Best apprentice I've worked with is a woman (women tend to be better apprentices in general IMO).

I've often thought a woman run service company would have a serious structural advantage when chasing after all the business in female majority industries like food service and hospitality. My sister is currently a manager in one of those businesses and is soon to be exiting for many of the articulated burn out reasons and not having to deal with sexism from sub-contractors would be a real help.
posted by Mitheral at 2:26 PM on January 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

None of this is a surprise. Even at the shop I frequent, which has an open shop night and a "women & non-binary" open shop night, so you'd think they'd be aware. I loved the paragraph about how the women mechanics tend to ask questions of each other, and the men tend just muddle through if they're not sure. And when I'm in working on my bike, I've gotten so much unsolicited advice, some of it wrong! I bought a new bike for the first time last year, and had to keep going to shops until I found one that would just build the bike I wanted, instead of questioning me like "Are you SURE you want what you're asking for?" or just not wanting to help me.

My last job was in tech (not bikes) and I did a lot of hardware work and installations, and part of the reason I quit was that even though I liked the work ok, I didn't like it ENOUGH to deal with men commenting on how I looked carrying tools (oh yes, a drill is complicated equipment) or asking why I was moving around a 10 foot ladder ("I'm doing my job?") or marvel that I was carrying things all by myself. And when I asked for technical advice like, "Hey, can you verify that this toggle will safely hold a 150lb object on drywall?" it was somehow interpreted as "Will you do this for me?" instead of double checking my work before I made an expensive mistake. It got real old.

(editing to say I think I combined a couple of projects with the drywall question, in case someone wants to tell me that's wrong. I quit a long time ago, here I am being overly conscientious.)
posted by jeweled accumulation at 2:28 PM on January 6, 2017 [7 favorites]

amnesia and magnets: Sure, but this isn't just another "assholes gonna asshole" thing, it's misogyny.

That's but one symptom of a set of problems with those settings; toxic environments aren't simply "asshole" magnets, as there's more than one spate of poor habits and unfounded biases clogging the mix at the outset.

As gathering places, shops, eateries, etc. will straddle the gamut from drawing small groups, sprawling crowds of varying taste and frequency, or even be held aloft by a few stragglers. The only bottom lines there are getting out and being around other people, and delivering a set of services within a set of markets.

Ideally, both those factors shouldn't trip up the persons hanging the shingle above the entrance, but not many of those proprietors are prepared, experienced or necessarily open to those options. As specific modes of service - like a shop that specializes only in biking, rather than a mix of outdoor activities - narrowly-defined establishments (taste-wise), intentionally or not can conflate cognitive biases, which will amplify any "gonna asshole" aspects.

For a shop or restaurant to truly flourish an a rounded way, it not only has to decide how it's going to be part of a local scene, but also have the means (and assistance) of correcting its missteps when that culture shifts or is slighted.
posted by Smart Dalek at 2:33 PM on January 6, 2017

(And yes, like gated communities, niche shops are often set up from the start to reinforce a particular hegemony within an area. In the larger sense, there's places that fail which easily fall into that same trap, making the problem even worse, and should also be addressed.)
posted by Smart Dalek at 2:37 PM on January 6, 2017

emjaybee, you can memail if you'd like. :) I took a peek at your location and I don't know a fitter closer than Houston, but the short answer is if you want to get The One Bike for yourself, splurge on a professional fit. You'll be able to bypass a lot of shop employee interaction if you know exactly what will and will not work for you.
posted by komlord at 2:49 PM on January 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

I was shopping around for a new bike pretty recently and I mostly had pretty good experiences, aside from one shop, where the fellow felt like he needed to show me how to mount a bike properly. Thanks for the tip, but I'm good. (And it really was just that one fellow - the rest of the staff were great. I'm still never going back though.)

I have every intention of starting to volunteer at a bike co-op this year. Like Layton, I'm attracted to the idea of social justice, which these places promote, and of being a woman in a male-dominated space. Unlike Layton, however, I barely know how to change a flat. Stories like the one in the article and from Mefites above make me a little nervous about being able to grow into a role where I'm doing more than just greeting people and telling them who to talk to.
posted by invokeuse at 2:55 PM on January 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

I can't speak to what it's like being a woman bike mechanic like others have so eloquently in this thread, but being a woman bike rider/bike shop customer has always been frustrating, and sexism has noticeably colored most of my experiences soliciting recommendations on purchases or communicating the issues I am having when I am looking for a repair. My gut is that there are markets out there that could be being more effectively catered to than by Bro Bike Shop USA.
posted by likeatoaster at 4:03 PM on January 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

When my husband and I decided to get bike-mobile again, we went shopping for a bike shop rather than for bikes. One of the reasons we chose our favorite bike shop is that one of the two owners is a woman (who barely cracks five feet tall, so she's extra aware of sizing issues). I do 95% of my bike-related stuff there and have never gotten attitude, so when I stop by more-typical stores the difference is pronounced.

Employees at other shops I've been in do that head-to-toe "does this person look like a real cyclist?" scan when you walk through the door and seem to favor folks in Lycra whose shoes go *click!* when they walk. At Tip Top anyone coming through the door gets "Hi, what can we do for you?" and when they're scheduling repairs their mechanics give higher priority to people who commute by bike than to weekend Lycra warriors.
posted by Lexica at 4:09 PM on January 6, 2017 [10 favorites]

I've never been a commercial bike shop person and generally avoid them even though I work in bike manufacturing. I'm glad to say I work for a company where the usual sexist hassles and gender hassling is mercifully absent. Perhaps it's a reflection of the industry but we don't get many if any female applicants for production or mechanic jobs though.
posted by diode at 4:30 PM on January 6, 2017

amnesia and magnets: Sure, but this isn't just another "assholes gonna asshole" thing, it's misogyny.

Smart Dalek: That's but one symptom of a set of problems with those settings; toxic environments aren't simply "asshole" magnets, as there's more than one spate of poor habits and unfounded biases clogging the mix at the outset.

Misogyny IS a spate of poor habits and unfounded biases. AKA systemic. I mean it's right there at the top of the Wikipedia entry on misogyny.

I grew up in a big construction family. My maternal grandfather shared zilch of his concrete knowledge with his granddaughter (me), but my paternal grandfather never blinked an eye at showing me how to use his tools. He explained everything to me. End result: I own a place and have fixed it up myself about 80%, the rest of it being plumbing and electric, which my grandfather always said "pick someone who listens and who shows you what they do." Never had an issue. I also applied that to choosing bike places, fwiw, and am proud to say that the store picked up here on MetaFilter because of its Méfi is a good one for women. Vélo Concept in Nice.

Now, if a guy born in 1921 – my grandfather – was able to behave like a normal human being with an elementary-school kid, I'm pretty sure that grown-ass men of our times are also capable of doing that with grown-ass women.
posted by fraula at 4:34 PM on January 6, 2017 [29 favorites]

Just going to plug my beloved local bike shop, Brixton Cycles. No shitty attitude to female or newly customers, several female mechanics on staff who seem to be treated as respected authorities (I've seen established male mechanics call women colleagues over for advice on technical issues more than once). This woman literally wrote their service manual.

They've just won London's Best Bike Shop (again) and they richly deserve it, they are fab.
posted by tinkletown at 4:56 PM on January 6, 2017 [7 favorites]

Bike mechanic culture is pretty awful. You get hipster niche-interest snobbery, implicit ranking by athletic ability, and the general competitiveness and misogyny that exist in most skilled mechanical fields.

I learned how to work on bikes in a community co-op bike shop. I really enjoyed learning and practicing the skill, but I wish that culture would fucking go away.
posted by scose at 5:09 PM on January 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

At the urging of a colleague, my husband and I took up cycling earlier this year. We love it, but we don't love our local bike shop. One woman said in a review: "...this place has a real spandex bike-jock sort of vibe. Don't expect them to respect the job they do, unless you're riding a $2,000 whip." She wasn't kidding.

After a few flats, I wanted some Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires because one of the shop's mechanics said they were the best puncture proof tires. When I went to buy them, I was told by one of the shop's other mechanics that I "wasn't there yet" and he would not make the $129 sale. A few weeks later, when my husband walked in (while I waited out-of-sight in the car) they happily sold him the tires. Grr.

For a shop that's co-owned by a woman, it sure doesn't bother attracting the business of female cyclists. According to the League of American Cyclists, in 2011 women made up 37% of the bicycle market, spending $2.3 billion. I imagine that's stayed steady or even increased. They don't bother selling women's saddles, carry very little in the way of women's cycling apparel, and claim that there really isn't any interest in women specific workshops.

Man, are they missing out. Cycling, for me, is more addictive than I imagined and what little extra money I have usually ends up getting spent on cycling.
posted by Coyote at the Dog Show at 5:35 PM on January 6, 2017

I owned a bicycle business in the '80s, we built bikes in a rented garage. We had a couple of women working there. One was a Volkswagen mechanic before she worked for us.

When I started bicycling early '70s there were ten or fifteen men on bikes for every woman. Now the ratio is more like 3:2. One woman who was a member of my club tells me that we met in the early '70s when I saw her and chased her down, explaining that I rarely saw a woman on an all-Campy bike, so I had to introduce myself and ask her to join our club. We have been friends ever since.
posted by Repack Rider at 5:36 PM on January 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

This saddens and angers me.

At the community college where I work, I hear from teachers every year that their best welders, machinists, auto techs, etc are the women. One time, an instructor and I listened as a young woman patiently explained to a male student some technical aspect of a transmission repair. When she and the guy walked away, the teacher standing next to me said, sadly, "she'll never get a job in this area." I asked why, and he said, "you know why," and wouldn't go into details.
posted by Caxton1476 at 5:39 PM on January 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

Anyone near Boston looking for a deliberately inclusive shop should check out Broadway
posted by mrgoldenbrown at 5:39 PM on January 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

amnesia and magnets: Sure, but this isn't just another "assholes gonna asshole" thing, it's misogyny.

That's but one symptom of a set of problems with those settings; toxic environments aren't simply "asshole" magnets, as there's more than one spate of poor habits and unfounded biases clogging the mix at the outset.

Dude. Seriously.

Misogyny and sexism still exist even though the US just had a woman run for President, the article is specifically about misogyny and sexism in bike culture and especially about how it manifests in bike shops. It's right there in plain English, black text on a white background, and you choosing to ignore what the article actually talks about and claim this is just part of a whole thing about megalomaniac niche shop owners creating toxic environments for everyone is coming across as minimizing and denying the idea that sexism still exists and is a problem. Cut it out.
posted by soundguy99 at 5:53 PM on January 6, 2017 [14 favorites]

soundguy99: "Misogyny and sexism still exist even though the US just had a woman run for President,"

One could say it is directly responsible for Presidential Candidate not being President Elect but that would be a derail.

Coyote at the Dog Show: "When I went to buy them, I was told by one of the shop's other mechanics that I "wasn't there yet" and he would not make the $129 sale."

WTF!? Does this dude not realize Amazon is a thing?
posted by Mitheral at 6:08 PM on January 6, 2017 [6 favorites]

With regards to amnesia and magnets' comment above: "Said casual sexism is rooted in the notion that women are ~*naturally*~ disinclined to (in this case) pursue mechanical work"

Is the claim that this can't possibly be true? (My impression: this seems quite obviously true to me. It doesn't follow that I *want* it to be true, or that I get that impression because I have a problem with women wielding wrenches.)
posted by huron at 7:05 PM on January 6, 2017

So I ( woman) had a 1987 Dodge Colt when I was in law school (a decade ish later) that I kept running with the manual and phone calls to my college roommate (a man). I was in the middle of swapping out the fuel pump when I could not understand what to do next and he was not home, but I muddled through and the thing ran for a couple more years. But you know what? I never ever liked working on that car. I did it and the car was safe and functional and I saved the money. But I hated working on my car.

After law school, I stopped driving and never looked back. I started using my bike (an upright commuter Dutch style bike) and I have zero fuck-all interest in doing the mechanicals on it (beside keeping the tires inflated and oiling the chain). Since I don't need to save the money and bike maintenance is cheaper than car maintenance, I never do it myself. Nope, not even the flats.

The bike shop on my block has (to my knowledge) no women employees or mechanics. And I am in there--all the time--for basic stuff. They're pretty nice and they make an effort to counter this Elitist Misogynist Thing that Bike Shops have in the world these days. They always talk through the repairs as though I know or would understand and they answer questions without rolling their eyes. I appreciate that because, if they did not, I'd have to go to another shop, further away.

The funny thing is--when I was buying my new commuter, I went across town to a shop that came highly recommended by lots of folks AND stocked the Pashley Princess which was the bike I really wanted. I got treated exactly as this article would have you expect someone who wants a bike called "Princess" would be treated. Long story short, I still don't have my Pashley, but when I told the guy at my bike shop I was inclined to just hold a part in place with a cable tie for the time being, he agreed that was a totally fine solution until my next major maintenance.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:08 PM on January 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

With regards to amnesia and magnets' comment above: "Said casual sexism is rooted in the notion that women are ~*naturally*~ disinclined to (in this case) pursue mechanical work"

Is the claim that this can't possibly be true? (My impression: this seems quite obviously true to me.

You're conflating "obviously" with "naturally." It seems "obvious" because you don't see a lot of women mechanics (bike or other), but it doesn't follow that this is "natural", as in an inherent present-at-birth/developed-at-puberty biological or psychological difference between men and women. There are a ton of social & cultural reasons why a woman might not look to have a career as a mechanic in the first place, but the extent to which those reasons are rooted in "nature" rather than "nurture" is highly debatable at best. The article itself makes the case that there's a feedback loop happening - men assume that women are "naturally" disinclined towards mechanical work, so the men ignore or disparage the women who try, and eventually the women quit, which leads to even fewer women bike mechanics, which reinforces the idea that women are "naturally" bad mechanics because you don't see any women bike mechanics.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:30 PM on January 6, 2017 [14 favorites]

When I went to buy them, I was told by one of the shop's other mechanics that I "wasn't there yet" and he would not make the $129 sale.

i wonder if he says the same thing when it comes time to sell the $5,000 plastic bike to the middle-aged accountant dude who will never, ever compete in a serious race, let alone win one.
posted by indubitable at 7:39 PM on January 6, 2017 [7 favorites]

Anyone near Boston looking for a deliberately inclusive shop should check out Broadway

I've always used Cambridge Bicycle, but it's become noticeably more of a bro-zone over the years. (I mean, the bros are all polite and professional, at least to me. But they're there, and the female employees they used to have seem not to be around any more.)

I'll give Broadway a try the next time I need some maintenance, though.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:53 PM on January 6, 2017

Yes, what we really need on a thread where women are sharing their stories of appalling discrimination, some of which is so bad they left that type of job, is a man saying, "But maybe women really are mechanically disinclined."

Seriously, why do you think it's a good idea to post that kind of thing? Not a rhetorical question. What sort of force or conditioning do you think drives men to dismiss women's skill and motivation in such an inappropriate context?

(in my head, i am playing quiz show music while you come up with your answer.)
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 1:24 AM on January 7, 2017 [20 favorites]

My first take on the introductory Layton story was not sexism, as its author intended--I bristled about managers and owners who said one thing when Layton was hired and did another--which is normal for asshat business owners. Having worked in small businesses my whole life, I also recognize the continual need for effective sales. If they put her in sales, it could be because they believed she would provide the most benefit as a sales person. Layton's passion for being a bike mechanic is impressive. Either way, also being serially underemployed, I know the experience can only strengthen her self-knowledge. How did that story end?
posted by xtian at 8:32 AM on January 7, 2017

Perhaps a bit of a siderail, but having spent most of 2016 and into 2017, managing the general contractor who is supposed to be in charge of rebuilding my house, I've realized that I could do a GC's job better than most GCs do, and my tentative plan, now that I've aged out of IT, is to look at the classes and certification required to start my own renovation company. Because every woman in our neighborhood who is having to rebuild is so damn tired of contractors talking down and mansplaining why shot isn't done yet. It's another industry that desperately needs more woman.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 8:37 AM on January 7, 2017 [6 favorites]

The friendliest bike shop in Chicago (in my opinion) is Uptown Bikes, which is woman-owned and -run and also employs female mechanics. I suspect it's not a coincidence that it also seems to pay and treat its employees far better than the typical shop (at least, there is much less employee turnover than anywhere else I've seen). Most shops seem to rely on peddling a self-image based on machismo and athletic superiority in lieu of decent pay. Unsurprisingly the quality and attitudes of their staff reflect that.
posted by enn at 11:21 AM on January 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

Omg SecretAgentSockPuppet, you are so right! I have a fantasy of starting a home reno company and then telling my male clients that I'll need to talk to their wife before starting a project. Because do you know how many male GC have said they need a husband's approval to me? Answer: Many, but not the ones I hire!
posted by areaperson at 6:01 PM on January 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

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