Shelly Pye is opening doors for women with her seminars and even helping them rethink some of their career goals.By Jon Barry
Shelley Pye leads a series of Car Care for Ladies seminars at Mike Coggins Ok Tire locations in Nova Scotia.
With a long familial connection to the automotive industry, Shelley is now passing on her automotive knowledge to eager woman attending her seminars: “Based on my experience, everyone needs [more education about their cars], not just women, but it’s more of a male dominated trade. That’s why I have been putting on the clinics for women. Women should know the basic maintenance like how to check their fluids and put their spare tire on and how to know when there’s a problem with their vehicle. My main goals are that women understand how the vehicle works and that they aren’t taken advantage of.”
In many ways Shelly’s passion for automotive has deep roots: “I grew up on the eastern shore, in Port Dufferin, where there wasn’t a whole lot of things to do except putter around outside and hang out with my dad and work around the [automotive] stuff he was doing. When I went to high school they offered a co-op program…and I went to the local garage.
I did one of my classes there to see if I liked it, because I liked doing the stuff I was doing with my father.
And low and behold I did! So I enrolled in community college and signed up for automotive service technician. I give a lot of credit to my dad for showing me how to do a lot of these things.” Shelly wasn’t the only one to catch the automotive fever from her father: “Ironically enough when I took the course that I took, my sister ended up taking autobody. So she is an autobody technician and I am an automotive service technician.”
Now Shelly is trying to instill that passion for automotive learning to her seminar attendees. “You can feel very intimidated or nervous to do something that’s not a women’s designated trade. I would like for more people to understand…any-one can do any trade they want to do but they shouldn’t feel nervous about it.” Shelly continues, “When I first started out in the trade there were a lot of barriers in regards to being a woman in the industry.. It’s not anywhere near what it was now. “When people walk in and they see that there is a woman here, it makes the women that are coming to the counter a little more comfortable. They feel more comfortable to ask questions.
A lot of women that show up [to the seminars] are very nervous and they don’t want to ask questions but they do want to. But once you start talking to them and you can get one-on-one to explain, “We are all here for the same reason”, you can interact with them much easier.”
By the end of the seminar, the reception from the audience is clear: “When are you having the next one? Can you do one at this location?” the clients ask. And the next scheduled seminars? “They fill up very fast.” says Shelly.