PHOENIX — A group of Valley women are getting their hands dirty, working to increase the number of women in the automotive industry. A 2019 report from the U.S. International Trade Commission revealed it’s a male dominated industry, with just a little more than 23 percent of workers being female.
In Phoenix, the Girl Gang Garage welcomes women of all experience levels to the automotive field. Their mission is to empower women to explore skilled trades, like working on cars.
Bogi Lateiner is the founder of the garage, which is anything but traditional for women.
“See what its like to weld or cut metal and take things apart and put them back together," Lateiner said. “We exist strictly to advocate for and connect women in the trades to one another.”
Lateiner normalizes women in mechanics, while creating one of a kind projects like teaming with Volvo on a new-build vehicle project. Lateiner said it’s a classic 1961 Volvo, placed on top of 2019 Volvo s-60 hybrid.
“Taking a brand new car, cut it apart into little pieces, cut apart an old car and we stuck them together," she said.
The girl gang just got done showing it off at this year’s SEMA car show in Las Vegas.
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“(A) ton of technology, ton of equipment that we had to cram into this little space," Lateiner said. "And our goal is to make everything work in it.”
Projects like this encourage other women like Krystle Reale to get their hands dirty while learning at the garage.
“I love being able to solve the problem of putting the old car with the new car," Reale said.
It's a passion project of Lateiners, after more than 20 years of industry experience, including owning a general repair shop.
“That was also predominately female run," Lateiner said.
They've paved an open road for women in a traditionally male dominated industry.
“There are women who want it and they should have an easy path to get into it if that’s what they crave and what they desire," Lateiner said.
Girl Gang Garage offers classes for all experience levels. There are some fees to join, but Lateiner said they start as low as only $12 so paying for class is not an additional barrier.
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