PORT RICHEY — In the male-dominated and increasingly technologically complex world of auto repair and maintenance, do women have the capability to succeed?
One local woman has proved that she can not only fix a car as well as a man, but she can become an expert in it.
She now wants young women to hear that message and join her under the hood.
Nikki Brock has earned Master Technician status from the professional certification group the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Nationwide, only one out of 100 ASE Master Technicians is a woman.
Brock is a technician at Ed Morse Auto Plaza in Port Richey and has worked there for one year. To win ASE Master certification, she had to pass a series of tests created by the NIASE.
Brock wasn’t always passionately committed the auto repair service profession. She originally went to school for something a bit different: helping repair people, as a surgical technician. During her surgical tech internship, however, she found it difficult to handle the emotions that come with dealing with patients who are terminally ill. This led her to look at another profession that was “always in the back of my mind.”
“I had grown up working on cars and always curious as to how they work,” Brock said in an email, giving credit to her family of millwrights, as the people who assemble and maintain factory equipment are known, and engineers for her passion.
After deciding to focus on automotive repair and maintenance, Brock re-enrolled in college and earned an associate’s degree in automotive technology in 2006 from Alpena Community College, in Michigan.
As one of the few female master technicians in the industry, Brock learned she had to continuously push herself and prove that she has what it takes to succeed as an automotive technician.
“Although everything about the industry pushes a female to give up,” she said, “I gained a lot of self-esteem and confidence becoming a successful female technician in today’s society.”
Her success hasn’t come easy. Not everyone is convinced she commands the required auto technology skills. Early in her career, the service supervisor at a large dealership gave her the job of changing an engine and transmission, expecting her to fail.
“He told everyone else in the shop to ‘stand by and watch’ and that ‘she doesn’t belong here,’ ” Brock said.
She proved him wrong, handled the job and then quit.
“I decided from that point to strive for success and be the best I can be in my field. Instead of letting his comments break me and make me doubt myself, I used it to push myself further and better as a technician.”
Brock hopes to use her knowledge and determination to help other women learn they too can be confident in their abilities in mechanics or any career they hope to pursue. Empowering the next generation is one of her main goals.
She was asked to hold an auto clinic for a local Girl Scout troop to help the Scouts to earn the Independence Badge. The clinic taught the girls basic car knowledge.
“Historically, females have been told not to worry about how a car operates. That kind of thinking is something I’m eager to get rid of,” Brock said. “The basic car knowledge that these Girl Scouts learned during the clinic is something that most adults struggle with every day.
By teaching them the basics, Brock said, “I hope to empower these young female minds to know that no knowledge is off limits.”
Her advice for woman interested in the automotive industry is to not let fear or doubt get in the way.
“If working in this industry is what you really enjoy and want to be successful with, then do it. Push yourself to achieve it, you can always change your mind later, but you’ll never know if you don’t try.”