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Wednesday, 15 August 2018 18:47

Ottawa, KS, Woman Thrives as Collision and Paint Technician

Written by Jeff Gulley, The Ottawa Herald
Following her graduation from WyoTech, Bridgette Ross is breaking new ground as a collision and paint technician at CARSTAR in Ottawa, KS. Following her graduation from WyoTech, Bridgette Ross is breaking new ground as a collision and paint technician at CARSTAR in Ottawa, KS. John Jared Hawks/The Ottawa Herald

Index

Just how rare is it for a woman to work in the auto repair industry? According to the U.S. Department of Labor statistics, of the 39 million women in the workforce, mechanical careers make up only 1 percent. That includes auto repair, HVAC and other mechanical jobs. In the automotive repair industry in the United States, women make up only 7 percent of the entire workforce, according to Catalyst, a website that specializes in women in the workforce.

 

While automotive repair has always been a passion, Ross tried some other careers before starting the WyoTech program.

 

“I tried to go to school for nursing, and that really didn’t work out,” she said. “I tried cosmetology school, but I am not really girly. I did factory work, but I was just miserable. I was looking up career ideas, and I just thought this was what I really liked and should go to school for.”

 

In looking for a new career, she recalled meeting a representative from WyoTech while a student at Ottawa High School. She remembers that the representative was a woman and thought that was really cool. She was also a fan of legendary designer Chip Foose and said someday she would like to be in the design industry.

 

At CARSTAR, her duties include painting and collision work, but Ross is already looking ahead.

 

“I’m pre-enrolled in industrial design school at the University of Kansas, so that’s my next step,” she said. “It touches on a little bit of everything. I will learn how to design furniture, cars [and] electronics. It’s a five-year program, but it’s what I want to do. This is going to be my experience, but ultimately I want to be an automotive designer like Chip Foose.”

 

Ross has two kids, an 8-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy. She said they were the reason she decided to follow her new career path. She said her daughter understands how hard it was for her to get where she is and is proud of her. She hopes that the chance she took and her hard work give her something she can give back to her kids.

 

“I feel like going through that made me a better mom too because the happier I am, the better mom I will be,” she said.

 

We thank The Ottawa Herald for reprint permission.


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