SEMA Member News—March/April 2012
SBN Gear Up Girls Event Greets Heart Wrenchers’ Club and More
The Heart Wrenchers began with just a few young women working toward dismantling the current gender stereotypes in the automotive industry, but it soon turned into a group of almost 20 active and enthusiastic club members.
Julia Johnson is a woman after my own heart and one of many trailblazers and difference makers in our industry. She always loved cars but was kind of intimidated by them, so she put her interest aside until she received a class schedule from Skyline College of San Bruno, California. Intrigued, she enrolled in the automotive aftermarket program there, received enthusiastic support from her teachers because of her passion for the industry and is now an instructor for the program herself. Her mission is to let women know that they’re equally as capable as men in the automotive industry and that a car’s inner workings aren’t as complicated as they seem.
“While a highly trained technician can make up to $100,000 a year, you don’t have to turn a wrench for a living,” Johnson said. “There are high-paying jobs in product design, engineering, marketing, management and more that move way beyond the shop floor.”
Johnson was instrumental in creating an all-women’s club called the Heart Wrenchers at her college. Beginning with just a few young women working toward dismantling the current gender stereotypes in the automotive industry, it soon turned into a group of almost 20 active and enthusiastic club members. Not only do they work on projects to benefit their own club, but they also implement initiatives giving back to their community. One program provides automotive services that help low-income families make sure that they have a dependable car. Another organizes area workshops helping Girl Scouts to earn their automotive badges. A third provides support of a scholarship fund for the women in the Skyline Automotive program.
“The women who started the club are intelligent, young, motivated, strong-willed and overcoming individual hardships to succeed,” said Heart Wrenchers member Maureen Moscoso. “Our goal is to give back to the community and be role models to other young women who may be afraid of attempting careers in the automotive industry.”
Johnson attended her first SEMA Show as a recipient of the Car Care Council Women’s Board Scholarship a few years ago and was able to bring seven of the Heart Wrenchers with her to the 2011 Show in November. They attended the SEMA Businesswomen’s Network’s (SBN’s) first-ever Gear Up Girls networking event.
“The SEMA Show was an amazing experience because we got the chance to see the inside of the automotive industry,” said Heart Wrenchers President Audrey Ingalls. “There were a lot of fun things to see and do, but the SBN’s Gear Up Girl networking event and the student internship program made it educational and beneficial for us. We got to meet powerful women in the industry who shared their experiences and advice, and we got to share with them and the other students there what we are all about. We look forward to building a strong relationship with the SBN and going to future SEMA Shows.”
As a 26-year industry veteran, I was awed by the Gear Up Girls event. In addition to the Heart Wrenchers, there were 21 additional young women from 12 different high schools and colleges in attendance. It was awesome to meet these ladies who are part of the future of our industry. Once we heard from them, all of us seasoned veterans cheered them on, gave them advice and exchanged cards with a promise that we would be available at any time for any form of mentorship they needed.
Statistics prove that women have nearly a 50% influence on automobile purchase decisions and greatly impact the purchase decisions of aftermarket products. It is critical that we always have a voice and a leadership role in guiding the direction of SEMA. So gear up, girls! Get ready for a great ride and a wonderful place to call home!