Girl mechanic (19) fights stereotypes

The Chronicle

Flora Fadzai Sibanda, Chronicle Reporter
INSPIRED by her grandfather who was a mechanical engineer, 19-year-old Mellisa Peters knew an office job was not for her and she chose to be a mechanic, plunging into a male dominated profession.

Miss Peters developed a love for fixing cars when she was in Form Three at Mzilikazi High School while watching her maternal grandfather doing that job at home in Mzilikazi suburb.

Mzilikazi High School

Watching the old man and “assisting” him, she picked up some of the basics.

Next Miss Peters watched YouTube videos tutorials and enrolled for the course at a local college.

Now she works in a workshop at Carlsly Motors in the city centre where she is the only female mechanic.

Miss Peters whose mother lives in Tsholotsho and is unemployed, said stereotypes by men who always frowned upon her dream to become a mechanic as well as the need to make her 60-year-old grandfather proud drove her.

She said her father lives in South Africa.

Miss Mellisa Peters

Miss Peters said up to now, some male customers at first doubt if she can deliver but end up saying thank you when the job is done.

“Societal stereotypes made me choose this male dominated profession. I remember every time l would tell a man what my dream job was, they would laugh at me and tell me to focus on looking for a job suitable for women. This made me more determined to become a mechanic as I wanted to prove to all the men that being a woman should not be issue when it comes to choosing a career,” she said.

Miss Peters said she acted on her dream after finishing Ordinary Level.

“I developed a liking for mechanics when I was in Form Three although I was not really putting much thought into it. After I finished my O-Level at Mzilikazi High School I knew I did not want to continue on that same route.

“I decided to make my dream a reality and venture into mechanics. My family was not keen on the idea at first. They were scared for me since the job can be quite strenuous. It is a dirty job so being a lady after hours is difficult. I enrolled at Bulawayo Projects Centre Institution and that is where I learnt all the theory about mechanics,” she said.

Miss Peters said working at a male dominated workshop was difficult at first as males around her were skeptical about her ability.

“It was difficult to gain respect and trust from my workmates because I am the only girl in the workshop.

“The only thing they saw in me was a 19-year-old girl who should be at home having babies. I had to prove myself everyday so that they respect me,” she said.

Miss Peters said male customers are usually doubtful whenever she attends to them.

“Customers, especially men are usually doubtful when l am the one attending to them. However, nothing makes me happy than hearing them saying thank you after the car has been fixed,” she said.

“I am not planning on staying here for the rest of my life. This is just a starting point for my career. I am working towards opening my own workshop and perhaps create more jobs for females. The dream is to end societal stereotypes regarding female mechanics.”

The owner of Carlsly Motors, Mr Carlton Mabika said at first he was not sure if Miss Peters had the capacity to work with them.

“She has however shown great potential and working with a woman who is ready to learn something new daily is quite interesting,” said Mr Mabika.

Ms Peters’ co-worker, Crispain Dube said It’s quite intriguing to see a woman who is so devoted to her work like Miss Peters.

“She is always so calm even when difficult customers come for services,” said Mr Dube.

Article Source: The Chronicle

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