How To Thrive As A Female PDR Tech In A Male-Dominated Industry
- Learn the Craft
- Earn Your Opportunities
- Ask Questions
- Remain Calm
- Find a Mentor
According to Mobile-Tech Newspaper, less than one percent of Paintless Dent Repair technicians in the United States are females. Repairing damage on both steel and aluminum panels while keeping the paint intact is often an area where you’d see a male working on your car, primarily due to the nature of the work. But for that 1% of female techs, what does it take to thrive in a male-dominated industry? Let’s take a look at how one woman did it.
Back in 2003, Susan Lechtenberg went through a nasty divorce and had absolutely no knowledge (or interest for that matter) in PDR. The whole male gender was one big turn-off, and she was intent on doing whatever it took to live her best life without needing a man. It was during her bartending days, following the divorce, that her brother Drew, owner of a PDR shop, told her, “I’m going to teach you something that will ensure that you are never dependent on a man again.”
If there’s one thing that females have in common during any breakup, it’s the desire to show that we never really needed the man. We wanted them, loved them, cared for them, etc. But need? No. This is what fueled Susan to learn PDR, as she never wanted to be in a position to need a man ever again. It hadn’t even been 8 months after her first dent push, and already her brother was encouraging her to pursue a storm on her own. It was time.
This same tenacity to be the “squeaky wheel” is what allowed Susan to become a hail chaser within her first year of PDR. As a female PDR tech, she worked to earn as many opportunities as possible. These opportunities weren’t exclusive to Susan but can apply to anyone seeking to learn the tools of the trade in PDR. Maybe that’s you and these tips can apply to your pursuit. Shadow a master technician, someone who has years of experience. Ask questions. Listen to the tips and tricks other PDR techs give you along the way. The more enthusiasm you show towards your work will undoubtedly attract the attention of the right people. At the same time, don’t just say “yes” to every task that comes your way. You can’t overextend yourself to the point where you’d potentially mess up a repair or worse, cause damage to a car.
Here’s another thing to keep in mind, especially for us females: don’t get easily offended. This is NOT to say let the guys make inappropriate or harassing remarks at you day after day, i.e., sexual harassment. There is never a time where that is “okay,” and you do not need to tolerate that. It’s more so allowing the guys to be themselves around you in all the ways guys can be: rowdy, swearing, a strange sense of humor, etc. Do you want to be treated like an equal? Act like an equal. If they see that you’re not offended by their male ways, you’ll make friends and even be invited to grab a beer with them after work.
One of the most significant ways to thrive as a female in the PDR world is to find a mentor. A mentor is there to guide you and answer your questions, while also instructing you throughout the process so one day, you’d be confident enough to chase your first hail season. Susan had her brother, and although they were family, he treated her just like any of his other technicians. Finding a mentor is truly invaluable in really any occupation. My mentors have guided me throughout my entire journey as a writer but ultimately led me to do the work. Don’t be afraid of failure, as it’ll always bring you closer to success. Your path to success is yours and yours alone. Follow the above advice, as it was written for a female, by a female. Own that 1 percent and make it your own. Define it, and become the best PDR technician out there.