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  1. #1
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    Women Bike Mechanics: NYTimes

    Nice article: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/11/ny...york-city.html


    If I understand the rules correctly, I can copy the text here because it is fully cited above.

    Women With Wrenches
    By JED LIPINSKI

    ON most days, Katlyn Hershman can be found smeared with grease, plying her skills as a mechanic at Bike Works NYC, a shop on the Lower East Side. When she answers the store phone, though, all that toil and expertise can suddenly seem invisible.

    “Guys automatically ask for the mechanic,” she said. “But I don’t really take it personally.”

    Ms. Hershman, 25, has a loyal clientele of cyclists, both men and women. And she has the satisfaction of being one of a small but growing number of New York women making their mark in a trade that was a men-only preserve not so long ago.
    Last edited by CbadRider; 09-11-11 at 06:59 PM. Reason: Moderator note: Edited for copyright - you can only post the entire article if you have permission.
    1959 Hilton Wrigley Connoisseur (still my favorite!)
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  2. #2
    bike whisperer Kimmo's Avatar
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    Chicks with grease under their nails are hot.

  3. #3
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    i have worked with female mechanics and had no problems with their abilities. currently i work with a couple of male "mechanics" that cant fight their way out of a derailer

  4. #4
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    Sad that this is so uncommon that it is worthy of an article in the NYT.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Deathly Hallows's Avatar
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    Not being taken seriously by male mechanics is why, except for warranty work, I now do my own repairs. I had a clunky bottom bracket on a bike, took the bike to three different shops, each time was told it couldn't be the bottom bracket (the dealer for the bike said he's never heard of a BB needing replacement on it); finally, on the third trip to one place I told them to just replace the bottom bracket, which they did (the mechanic grumbled "Well, I guess we're just replacing things now"), and the clunk mysteriously disappeared. Same thing when I wanted a larger crank; LBS said it couldn't be done (or wouldn't be worth the trouble), so I wound up doing it myself.
    Last edited by Deathly Hallows; 09-11-11 at 06:54 PM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member FlatSix911's Avatar
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    You forgot the photos ...





    You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
    You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
    You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
    You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.
    You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.

  7. #7
    Senior Member rydabent's Avatar
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    flatsix +1

  8. #8
    another retro grouch Mr IGH's Avatar
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    Its a hardwired thing, less than 10% of Engineering majors are women, I've never seen a woman car mechanic and only 2 women bike mechanics.

    As a father of two sons and one daughter, it has always amazed me how little interest my daughter has in working with her hands. She'd rather clean the bathroom than mow the lawn (over the years I gave here the choice, her brothers had to do whatever she didn't chose). It's not as if she doesn't like math/science, her college major is Bio-Med Engineering, she scored a 35 on her math ACT and skipped the first two semesters of Engineering Calculus. She just doesn't have any interest in woodworking, car/bike fixing, lawn work, etc, the boys love that kind of stuff.

  9. #9
    car guy, recovering aixaix's Avatar
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    Its a hardwired thing
    I have a son & daughter. She's far more mechanically inclined than he is. In fact, she's been volunteering as a mechanic & facilitator at Bike Church in Philadelphia for years, and works building & painting frames at Bilenky.

    Hard to draw accurate conclusions from anecdotal evidence, though we all do it.
    Michael Shiffer
    EuroMeccanicany.com

  10. #10
    another retro grouch Mr IGH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aixaix View Post
    ...Hard to draw accurate conclusions from anecdotal evidence, though we all do it.
    After 3 decades of promotion/incentives why are only 5% of practicing engineers of the female persuasion? Why is it that there's almost no women mechanics? Caterpillar has almost no woman welders despite all the incentives to hiring them.

    PC's ugly hand has corrupted these conversation, we're expected to pretend men and women are the same.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr IGH View Post
    After 3 decades of promotion/incentives why are only 5% of practicing engineers of the female persuasion? Why is it that there's almost no women mechanics? Caterpillar has almost no woman welders despite all the incentives to hiring them.

    PC's ugly hand has corrupted these conversation, we're expected to pretend men and women are the same.
    Maybe because they are smarter than the men who stay in engineering and see their non-engineering peers get better paying jobs.

    I like engineering (I'm not an engineer, but a technician), and I like welding (and sometimes do it professionally). I would not choose welding as a career if I could find better options. A women blue collar worker is going to have to deal with a very high ******* quotient in the trades. As a male, I see sexism, I'm sure it is more obvious to the women. And people wonder why there aren't more women in certain fields.

    And to those who say it is hardwired, I don't see too many males doing crochet or sewing. Before automation, the ladies were making lace, and probably still are somewhere on the globe. You see a lot of women in electronics assembly. They are just as hard-wired for dexterity as anyone else.
    Last edited by krome; 09-12-11 at 12:37 PM.

  12. #12
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wrk101 View Post
    Sad that this is so uncommon that it is worthy of an article in the NYT.
    It is a positive sign... women are the indicator species when it comes to cycling and when you see more of them riding and wrenching things are going well.

    We have a very nice group of female mechanics at our co-op although there are few employed in the city's shops and one of my partners in the new shop is one of the best mechanics I know and she has worked very hard over the past 5-6 years to really expand her knowledge and skill base.

    She runs another community shop on a part time basis as well.

  13. #13
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    My youngest daughter could lace a wheel at 8 and does most of the work on her bicycle and has built up bicycles for her friends... but she is far too smart to look at being a dumb bicycle mechanic and frame builder like her dad and I expect her to be Prime Minister one day after becoming the first woman to win the Tour de France.



    My oldest daughter has no interest in turning wrenches at all but has other gifts... my little monster always asks for tools as gifts and is also very interested in cooking so has accumulated a pretty good collection of her own kitchen tools.

    I could see her working a bike mechanic someday even if that was to earn income for school and other things but not as a career.

    But then... maybe she will also have an aptitude for handling a torch too.

  14. #14
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    Thanks for the link, LeicaLad.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr IGH View Post
    After 3 decades of promotion/incentives why are only 5% of practicing engineers of the female persuasion? Why is it that there's almost no women mechanics? Caterpillar has almost no woman welders despite all the incentives to hiring them.
    Why? There are all kinds of reasons. It has nothing to do with 'PC' to ask why professions are the way they are. 'Innate' gender differences have been hypothesized to explain such phenomena but simply do not explain the current state of affairs. 'It's a hardwired thing' has very little explanatory power, and in the absence of a complete explanation, doesn't just expand to fill that explanatory gap.

    One possible reason for discrepancies: people consistently interpret the absence of gains as evidence for aptitudes being 'hardwired', a position which reinforces the very discrepancy it purports to explain.

    Just as we like to get people with expertise on these boards explaining how bicycles work (or don't work), rather than people who have very little knowledge or experience doling out conclusions, the best people to consult on this issue would be those with expertise in labour markets and gender stratification, school-work transition, early and late gender socialization, and so on. Evidence is widely available on this, but asking for specific sources is like asking 'what has biology said lately?' or 'how do I fix a bicycle?'. A quick Wikipedia/Google search will give the interested a deluge of information to follow up on.

  15. #15
    car guy, recovering aixaix's Avatar
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    I agree that there are fundamental differences between men and women that inform their work: what they do and how they do it. My only point is that there are exceptions. Your daughter isn't interested in working with her hands, while mine loves it. If you were to generalize from these two examples, concluding that 50% of women like working with their hands would be as wrong as if you built a rule around either example alone.

    I don't think we disagree about anything fundamental here. You certainly could believe that there are female auto mechanics, even if you haven't met any. Where we may differ is that I believe that cultural norms and expectations play a large part in gender roles; that you cannot put it ALL down to the intrinsic differences between men and women. Not so very long ago, the percentage of female engineers, mechanics, etc. was approximately zero. Cultures change faster than large mammal genetics, so I doubt this significant change (from 0% to 5%) is due to mutation! I do think WW II & the late 20th century recession had more to do with it than the women's movement, though that had a significant impact as well.
    Michael Shiffer
    EuroMeccanicany.com

  16. #16
    another retro grouch Mr IGH's Avatar
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    Less than 5% of women in Engineering and the Trades...It's important to ignore real world results when it's going against PC thoughts, ask Larry Summers, he was fired from Harvard for expressing the same thoughts. Some of his gigs include: 71st United States Secretary of the Treasury from 1999 to 2001 under President Bill Clinton. He was Director of the White House United States National Economic Council for President Barack Obama. I guess he has "very little knowledge or experience doling out conclusions", without any of this: "the best people to consult on this issue would be those with expertise in labour markets and gender stratification, school-work transition, early and late gender socialization, and so on."

  17. #17
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    mechanical aptitude is not gender specific.
    and often times a Woman can speak to female customers ,
    and be better at communicating with them than men.
    and improve shop sales income.

    Given a majority of University students are Women,
    they may go on to do better than work in a bike shop.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr IGH View Post
    Less than 5% of women in Engineering and the Trades...It's important to ignore real world results when it's going against PC thoughts, ask Larry Summers, he was fired from Harvard for expressing the same thoughts. Some of his gigs include: 71st United States Secretary of the Treasury from 1999 to 2001 under President Bill Clinton. He was Director of the White House United States National Economic Council for President Barack Obama. I guess he has "very little knowledge or experience doling out conclusions", without any of this: "the best people to consult on this issue would be those with expertise in labour markets and gender stratification, school-work transition, early and late gender socialization, and so on."
    That's correct, Larry Summers doesn't have expertise in gender stratification of labour markets. He has not done primary research in that area, as far as I know, and never specialized in it - his economist bona fides are in much different fields. It's also possible for Larry Summers to say things which are wrong.

    I don't believe in ignoring 'real world results' which is why I pointed out that one should consult the evidence and explanations for said evidence, instead of rehearsing one's intuitions. My emphasis on this was not meant to be insulting. Some explanations do a better job addressing the evidence than others. Invocations of natural aptitude do not do the heavy lifting when it comes to explaining labour markets. This has nothing to do with 'pc' but has to do with rigorous analysis of a complex situation. I recognize but do not understand the bother this causes people.

  19. #19
    another retro grouch Mr IGH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    mechanical aptitude is not gender specific....
    Of course, I never said it was. Preferences are gender specific and evidence of it is everywhere. University degrees are becoming less and less valuable, esp the degrees that women prefer to pursue. How's the women's studies population shake out gender-wise and how's the job market for that degree after dropping $120K to earn it? If women overall preferred the trades or engineering, you'd think they start moving that number up, except it's be going down since the 90's....

    When I managed an LBS back in the early 80's we had so many women and minority customer compared to our competition. My customers explained to me that we were the only high-end shop in the area that showed them respect. Reading post #5 it looks like little has changed in 30 years.
    Last edited by Mr IGH; 09-12-11 at 01:33 PM.

  20. #20
    another retro grouch Mr IGH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scruggle View Post
    That's correct, Larry Summers doesn't have expertise in gender stratification of labour markets.....
    So Larry operated in a vacuum and made it all up? Larry had no access to research or experts with his Clinton gig or when he was President of Harvard? Okie dokie!

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr IGH View Post
    So Larry operated in a vacuum and made it all up? Larry had no access to research or experts with his Clinton gig or when he was President of Harvard? Okie dokie!
    Summer's 2005 talk wasn't in an area of primary expertise; he didn't reduce gender stratification to 'it's a hardwired thing'; and he proposed hypotheses, not incontrovertible conclusions. I am glad research and public attention continues on why people appear underrepresented in certain fields, since arguments which presuppose innate differences are poor arguments which fail to consult the evidence. I have no idea why you've taken the tone you have.

  22. #22
    another retro grouch Mr IGH's Avatar
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    Your point is correct if Economics and Labor are unrelated fields. I had this same conversation with an Bush 1 Under Secretary of Education a few months ago, he agreed with Larry.
    Last edited by Mr IGH; 09-12-11 at 02:08 PM.

  23. #23
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    Just for the record, Larry Summers was not actually fired, and the issues around his resignation (a year later) were reportedly complex.

    Second, as I understand it, what he was talking about was deviation (not average ability), and how even with the same average between genders, a small standard deviation difference could make a significant difference in the numbers of each gender in the very top hundredth of a percentile from which members of science and engineering faculty at elite schools are recruited.

    Even if it was true, it's highly questionable that what Summers hypothesized could explain the current gender mix of LBS mechanics (unless they are all drawn from a small super-high-performance pool...).

  24. #24
    car guy, recovering aixaix's Avatar
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    I think what is causing this thread to degenerate is this line:
    PC's ugly hand has corrupted these conversation, we're expected to pretend men and women are the same.
    PC is a straw man: easily held up to ridicule & knocked down. There is nothing served by using this politically charged term in a bicycle forum.
    Michael Shiffer
    EuroMeccanicany.com

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