Jeanne Goodall is on course for fulfilling her driving ambition.
While working on a placement for her car mechanic course, the 18-year-old from Drighlington noticed how many female drivers took their partners when discussing things to do with their cars.
It’s a recognised fact that many women drivers feel their lack of knowledge of what’s going on under the bonnet can put them at a disadvantage when getting their cars fixed.
Jeanne hopes to change all that by opening a garage staffed only by female mechanics. She is currently approaching the second year of her motor vehicle fitting apprenticeship through Bradford charity Rathbone, one of the largest independent providers of education and training in the tertiary sector.
The charity runs a range of courses for young people aged 16 to 18, enabling them to move on to college or work. The charity also works with the Laisterdyke+Business+and+Enterprise+College">Laisterdyke Business and Enterprise College, offering 14 to 16-year-olds the opportunity of a practical grounding in vehicle maintenance and repair.
Once Jeanne has completed the course, she intends getting some experience working for a garage, but her long-term ambition is to open her own.
“My goal is to have my own garage with just women workers, working for women,” she says.
Working in a predominantly man’s world doesn’t bother her. She is the only girl on the course and says she loves learning with the lads.
“Obviously you get a bit of stick, but you have to take it on board,” she says. “It is something you get, but I really enjoy it.”
Jeanne’s interest in cars stems from watching BBC’s Top Gear and Formula One racing.
“My mum’s car used to break down a bit and it got me thinking it would be nice to know what to do,” Jeanne recalls.
She prefers older to modern cars. “I love Jaguars and Aston Martins,” she says.
“Not many girls like getting their hands dirty. Some complain about their nails, but you are fixing something.”
She loves problem-solving, too, and has already impressed her tutor, Gary Campbell.
He says: “The course is very ‘hands-on’ and is suited to those looking for a practical trade. Jeanne listens well and picks things up quickly. She is the only female on the course and has won the respect of her male counterparts by getting stuck in and joining in the banter.”
Rathbone is positive about equality and diversity. Aside from helping Jeanne make the grade as a mechanic, the charity has allowed young men to take their first steps into childcare.
“Young people are being very imaginative with their career choices and in the process are breaking down barriers,” says Rolf Mason, Rathbone centre manager for Bradford.
“Apart from being good for our society, that makes common sense when there are so few job opportunities around.
“If there is a shortage in a particular trade, then why not train for it? Why should gender prevent a young person plugging Britain’s skills gap?”
Jeanne’s advice to any women wanting to follow her into a career as a car mechanic is to just “do it”.
“It’s the best fun. I know it’s a man’s world, but you can learn a lot off them.”
For more information about Rathbone, go to rathboneuk.org, e-mail Bradford@rathboneuk.com or call (01274) 718300.