The experience of a businesswoman from Hertfordshire hit the headlines over the weekend after what has been described as ‘shameful sexism’.
Soraya Easterbook says she was charged £700 for a new battery for her Fiat 500 after it developed an issue 14 miles from her home.
Having limped to a nearby garage, she told the The Mirror that she was greeted by mechanics who were “smirking a little bit”. The garage charged her £700 for a replacement battery.
The car broke down again on the way home, so he showed the old battery to a local mechanic who said it was fine. Indeed, it’s understood that the car had suffered an unrelated and minor problem, which could have been fixed at a reduced cost.
Depending on the specification, a battery for a Fiat 500 should cost between £100 and £200.
Soraya told The Mirror: “It’s just shameful to get that when you’re just a woman going in by yourself. I just really highly feel like that would not have happened if it was a bloke alone. It just felt really strange but I had no choice and I was on my own, they knew that.
“Now I’m anxious every time I visit a mechanic and always take a male friend or male family member with me, and you can see the different impression the mechanics give off… On my own, I arrived and straight away and saw them smirking a little bit and it went from there.”
Are female customers taken seriously?
According to an online repair and service company, 10 million female motorists (60 percent) are anxious about visiting a mechanic, while 12.5 million women (75 percent) believe they are taken less seriously than male drivers.
Around 8 million (48 percent) said they have experienced casual sexism in a garage, being called ‘darling’, ‘love’ or ‘sweetheart’.
The Fixter survey also found that 10.2 million women (61 percent) take a male partner, family member or friend whenever they visit a garage.
Plans to address the diversity shortfall
Last year, the Automotive Council announced plans to increase the proportion of women in its workplace to 30 percent by 2030.
Its members, who represent 99 percent of British vehicle manufacturing, and half of the automotive workforce, made the pledge at the SMMT Annual Dinner, where it said that just under 20 percent of the sector’s workforce is female.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive and chair of the Automotive Council UK Competitiveness and Business Environment Group, said: “With so much change taking place across the automotive sector, recruiting the brightest and the best is essential to the future success of the industry. The industry has often been perceived – and the facts back it up – as male dominated.
“We need to change this quickly; gender balance is not just about ‘doing the right thing’, it’s demonstrably good for business. The sector should always be representative of the communities in which it is based and the societies it serves so addressing gender imbalance is non-negotiable.”