Parker shows women can excel in Auto shop


Taylor Parker works on a piece of equipment in the Auto Shop


When Gloucester High School first introduced their vocational programs, funded by John Hays Hammond Jr., they were seniors-only and segregated by gender. Cooking classes were for girls and “instruction on the automobile” were for senior boys. Now, “Auto” is open to everyone.

Taylor Parker is a junior, and the only girl in her grade in the Auto program at GHS. She spends two blocks a day in the garage with teachers John Porter and Bud Maciel. “Everyone’s equal in auto,” said  Parker. “I like getting my hands dirty, it’s fun.”

This year, the Auto program has 7 girls across all blocks. John Porter partially attributes the increased female enrollment to Taylor. “When you do get a large group like this, and you get one like Taylor and she talks to her friends and all of a sudden you get a big rush of girls to the class, which I think is great.” said Porter. “Girls do some great things here.”

Porter stresses the importance of auto skills to all young people, not necessarily just boys or girls. “Everybody should know how to change a flat tire, change your own oil, maybe do brakes” said Porter. “Even just enough so that when you go to a garage to get your car fixed you’ll have some knowledge and maybe not be taken advantage of. You’re all going to be driving soon, you’ll have these issues happening.”

The other auto teacher, Bud Maciel, agrees that the skills they teach can be applicable in more than one way. “Even if you don’t go into the actual field as far as working on cars, having an experience in a place like this will give you the knowledge you need to be a service writer- the one who deals with the customer and sells the job,” said Maciel. “So having knowledge on what your selling is key. It also teaches you how to deal with people; any kind of customer could come through that door, from the angry person to the happy person.”

Automotive Tech students work with their mentors to fix the cars of Gloucester residents, and many graduates from the program have gone on to successful careers. “One girl who was here before me is now on an aircraft carrier, she’s a crew chief for AR14 fighter jets,” said Porter. “There’s one who’s working on nuclear submarines. Several service writers, several mechanics.”
Both Porter and Parker expressed the idea that girls may not be suggested for vocational as often. “I think the guidance department doesn’t reach out to the females as much, thinking it’s gender specific to males,” said Porter. “I get that feeling sometimes. I could be wrong, but that’s my opinion.”

“They never offered it to me,” said Parker. “I did it on my own.”