The title of this post is directly referencing the Lady Mechanic Initiative in Nigeria, rather than our usual tongue-in-cheek usage of the term. This pretty awesome organization was brought to our attention through NPR’s series on the changing lives of women. NPR’s Morning Edition did a great little piece on the initiative, which trains women to become car mechanics and break into the well-paying and male-dominated field of car mechanics in Nigeria, a growing field in the country’s oil boom.
I find this particularly warming to the cockles of my lady economist heart since gendered occupational segregation is pretty similar throughout the world, with women’s employment overwhelmingly in childcare, education, healthcare and subsistence farming and women in manufacturing segregated into particular industries like apparel. Listening to the interviews on NPR with the founder and graduates of the program demonstrates that women aren’t in female-dominated fields just because of preferences (although this certainly does play some role), but many women are happy and prefer to do other types of work given the training and support.
Faith Macwen, one graduate of the program, said that her male co-workers were initially dismissive. “Actually, at first, the male were feeling, ‘You can’t do it, that it’s our world.’ But we made them realize — I made them realize — we can do it. I want other ladies to take up the opportunities. Go out. When you have a flair for something, go in for it. Don’t let anybody tell you you can’t do it. You can do it.” These ladies are overcoming taboos and hopefully this spillover to other occupations, showing us that women are capable workers in male-dominated fields, and they deserve to be well-paid too.