In celebration of International Women’s Day, we spoke to a couple of the women who keep our members’ wheels turning.
Here’s Alex’s story…
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I’m Alexandra, Roadside Patrol/ Battery Assist Technician for the AA.
Outside of work I enjoy restoring and maintaining my four classic cars and taking them to shows.
How long have you been with the AA and have you always been in a technical role?
I have been working at the AA for eight years. This is my first job as a vehicle technician.
What made you want to join the AA, or go into the automotive industry?
I have always enjoyed helping people, fixing cars and working independently.
What did you do before you joined the AA?
I worked in a supermarket’s bakery department.
What have the highlights of your career been so far?
Learning new things every day and making people smile again.
What are the challenges of your job?
Working long hours and keeping people safe in dangerous breakdown locations.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Most people are happy to see me (I can’t imagine a dentist would ever be able to say that)!
What is life like on the road?
It can be a dangerous job at times and the weather is always something to contend with. (Also, finding a loo can be a challenge!)
Do you think members react/ behave any differently towards you compared to male colleagues?
Yes, every person I attend either makes a comment about me being a female (in case I didn’t know) or shows body language to insinuate they wish to comment but feel they can’t.
“I once rang a lady to tell her I was on the way and she shouted: What? You? But you sound like a girl!”
Have you been to any unusual or memorable breakdowns?
I once rang a lady to tell her I was on the way and she shouted “What? You? But you sound like a girl!?”
I’ve had a few people ask if I’m capable… I look over at my van and down at my uniform and think in my head “I’m sure I wouldn’t be doing this job if I wasn’t capable…”
What’s next – any plans or ambitions for the future?
I’m never sure what the future holds in my little world, but I’m always up for progressing and trying new things. I just like to do a good job of what I do.
Do you have any tips or advice for people looking to join the industry?
Have confidence in yourself. Listen. Learn new things, even if they are irrelevant now, they might come in handy one day… and make notes. Not perfect notes, just some scribble that you understand to help you remember some little things. And lastly, keep smiling… because if you smile, the whole world might just smile back.
What would you say to women looking to enter industries that are typically male-dominated?
Be strong. Be professional. Don’t think of yourself as being different, you’re a human being and can put your mind to anything you want whether you are male or female.
If you could change one thing (about your job or the industry in general), what would it be?
I wish people could just see me as a professional, rather than an oddity.
What changes have made a difference to you? What more could be done to improve the job for women and attract more women to the patrol force?
As with previous advertising slogans, it has been known that if you break down, a very nice man will come and save you. A very very nice man… Perhaps more advertising with both male and female patrols present?