In the 1992 movie "My Cousin Vinny," Vinny's fiancée, Mona Lisa (Marisa Tomei), helps him win his first murder trial because she knows how to fix cars. While the movie was a hit, Tomei's character apparently didn't inspire women to investigate a career as a mechanic. Far from it. As of 2015, out of the 924,000 automotive service technicians and mechanics in the U.S., a scant 1.5 percent were female [source: BLS].
But this is a job in demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts there will be a 17 percent increase in demand for mechanics from 2010 to 2020, and auto dealers around the U.S. are already finding it hard to find and keep qualified technicians. Kids simply don't grow up fiddling under the car hood as much as they used to, plus a lot of secondary schools no longer offer auto repair programs, once a main source of job recruitment [source: Woodyard].
But there's more to it than that when it comes to female mechanics. Patrice Banks, an engineer who traded in her business suit for a pair of coveralls, told the Christian Science Monitor that when she spoke to an all-male high school automotive class, the kids couldn't quite believe she was a mechanic, asking to see her hands, then telling her she'd be a distraction in the workplace. With those kinds of attitudes, it's small wonder there are so few female auto mechanics. Banks opened a car clinic to teach women about their vehicles and hopes to open an all-female auto shop one day.