French chicks get under the hood

A new school for female mechanics aims to change attitudes about what's considered a male-dominated profession.

Published January 24, 2006 4:48PM (EST)

The BBC reports that a new training center in southern France is teaching women how to be car mechanics in hopes of challenging traditional male-centric garages.

"We want to change attitudes in a profession which is very masculine," said the center's male director, Herve Malige.

Fifteen women are currently enrolled at the center, called Base 34, and will graduate in June 2007. Malige expects that all of his pupils will eventually set up their own garages.

The stereotype of the beefy, grimy auto mechanic, says Malige, is très passé. What's important isn't brawn, it's "rigor and methodical diagnostics."

"Women are strong at identifying the causes of breakdowns -- they methodically check everything," Malige told the BBC.

The women enrolled in the course range in age from 22 to 38 and include a former beautician, nurse and flight attendant.

By Lori Leibovich

Lori Leibovich is a contributing editor at Salon and the former editor of the Life section.

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