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Shifting Gears: Women Breaking Barriers in the Auto Industry

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Mentors can be game changers in your career, especially in a highly specialized field like the auto industry.  

Enter Cox’s Women Who Wrench, a new kind of mentorship program geared toward helping women navigate their career paths as technicians at Cox Automotive. With initiatives like this, Cox’s teams are challenging the norms that have long defined the automotive industry and creating a culture where every technician, regardless of gender, feels valued and empowered. 

Here, four Cox technicians share their stories and how the Women Who Wrench program has made an impact in their careers. 

 

“I realized that I am not alone.” 

Nakita “Key” Stevens’ dream of becoming an exceptional mechanic goes all the way back to high school on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, where she got a solid foundation in auto body and welding. 

This passion led her to continue her technical training at both the Universal Technical Institute in Texas and NASCAR Technical Institute in North Carolina. Today, she is a mobile trailer repair technician supporting Fleet Services by Cox Automotive. 

“Over the years, I’ve honed my skills as a mobile trailer technician, and I thrive on tackling complex challenges,” she said. 

For instance, Nakita has dealt with some of the challenges of pursuing a career where women are still underrepresented. She works to overcome biases by advocating for herself at work and leaning on mentors for support and guidance. 

“Participating in programs like Women Who Wrench has been instrumental in supporting my career,” she said. “This program reinforced my belief that women can excel in traditionally male-dominated fields. I realized that I am not alone in advocating for equal rights for women in any career; witnessing the success of other women in the program reaffirmed my determination and fueled my own drive to succeed.” 

 

“These women are my support system.” 

Julia Miller also found her calling in the automotive industry at a young age.  

“I have always loved working with my hands, and I figured I would turn my passion into a career,” she said. 

Julia had a lot of experience with both diesel and natural gas engines by the time she joined Cox as a mobile diesel technician. She was drawn to the company’s work flexibility and mentorship opportunities.  

Participating in the Women Who Wrench program was pivotal for Julia, who had only met one other woman in her field until she joined Cox.

“Through Women Who Wrench, I have met so many amazing women in all different aspects of wrenching, such as auto mechanics, truck mechanics, body repair specialists and battery maintenance techs,” she said. “These women are my support system and we have grown a bond I am so lucky to have.” 

Julia wants to pay it forward to others who want to succeed in the industry. 

“I aim to mentor young women entering the field, sharing my knowledge and experiences,” she said.  It’s about creating a supportive environment where they feel empowered to pursue their passion for mechanics.” 

 

“I am hoping this program will open doors for other women.” 

Susana Guillen discovered her passion for the auto industry during high school, but she didn’t get to pursue that dream career until later in life. 

“I took an auto collision course for two years while in school and, right away, I knew that I wanted to build a car from the inside out,” she said. “However, going out of town for school wasn’t an option for me then, so I enrolled in massage school and was a licensed massage therapist for 11 years.” 

Years later, Susana found a trade school to complete her automotive training alongside her daughter. 

“I told my daughter I wasn’t getting any younger and that I still wanted to be a tech,” Susana said. “At that time, she was a senior in high school, and she asked if I could wait until she graduated so she could go with me. Going to school with her was one heck of an experience.” 

Two years into her new career, Susana loves her job as an auto maintenance tech at Cox, supporting Manheim in Las Vegas. Participating in programs like Women Who Wrench has been helpful for her as a newcomer to the industry. 

“Having other women who understand how I feel has helped me so much,” she said. “Making connections with women all over the United States who are in the automotive field is so uplifting. We have, one way or another, been through the same challenges and have had similar fears. I am hoping this program will open doors for other women interested in this field.”  

 

“A different outlook on how our work connects.” 

Working with cars was not part of Icie Hinton’s career plan. She has a culinary degree and has worked as a personal chef a general manager in the restaurant industry; she also dabbled in other fields and side hustles — from doing hair to fixing brakes — to provide for her son as a single mom. 

Then the pandemic changed everything.  

“When COVID hit, it impacted my ability to provide for my son and myself,” she said.  

Her sister, a Cox employee, told her about FleeTec Academy, which offers paid training. Icie seized the opportunity and today, she’s a trailer repair technician at Cox. 

“I was inspired to learn the skills of wrenching so I could pass them on to my son,” she said. “I feel the responsibility to be the role model he deserves and prepare him for the real world and the hard work required to succeed in life.” 

Breaking into a new industry can be intimidating but finding mentors and building a support system through the Women Who Wrench program helped Icie succeed in this new chapter. And she advises all aspiring mechanics to find mentors and advocates as well. 

“I’ve gotten to meet so many intelligent and hard-working ladies who are so good at what they do; it’s great to know I can reach out to them with technical questions and support,” she said. “It gives me a different outlook on how our work connects to the larger mission, and it has inspired me to see what other roles I can aspire to at Cox.”

The journey these women have embarked on is far from over. Still, with each step forward, they’re paving the way for future generations of female technicians and transforming the industry.   

 

Interested in an automotive career? Explore auto tech and diesel tech roles and sign up for the Cox Talent Community today! 

 

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