Shifting gears: Female mechanic empowers women to enter automotive world

PHOENIX – A business that started in a driveway more than a decade ago is paving the way for other women to be part of the automotive industry.

“Tell me I can’t and I will show you I can,” said Bogi Lateiner, owner of 180 Degrees Automotive in central Phoenix.

Lateiner did a 180 turn in her own life when she picked up a wrench instead of a law book.

“I started the shop in 2006 in my driveway, and grew it slowly over time,” said Lateiner, whose shop on West Mariposa Street has been open six years.

But becoming a mechanic and then shop owner wasn’t easy.

“I had to go to 20 shops before I got the first job to say yes to hiring me,” Lateiner recalled. “I wanted to open a shop that would never, ever make anybody, male or female, feel the way I felt when I was a little girl bringing in my car for service.”

Lateiner said she chooses to educate and empower others through automotive.

“To come in a judgement free, low pressure environment where they’re going to be treated respectfully, but also to create opportunities for other women in the trades,” she said.
“We make a point of seeking out female apprentices and raising them up into technicians.”

Less than 3 percent of auto service technicians and mechanics are women, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“We have women service advisers, we have women technicians, so you’re pretty much free to do your job and not have to worry about trying to prove yourself in this industry,” said Brittni Specker, a technician at 180 Degrees Automotive.

The shop itself represents Lateiner’s mission.

“Promote the trades in general as a valid, respectable career path and create more opportunities for women in the trades,” she said. “Really, to support and empower women in general has always been my passion.”

Breaking into a male dominated industry hasn’t been easy for Lateiner, but she thinks representation matters when it comes to paving the way for others.

“You can tell a little kid till you’re blue in the face they can be anything they want to be, but until they see somebody who looks like them doing it, they don’t actually believe it,” Lateiner said.

Not only is she the owner of a shop mostly operated by women – there’s one man on the eight-person staff – Lateiner also hosts an international show called “All Girls Garage” that airs on the Velocity Channel.

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