I am learning to become a mechanic to prove that what a man can do a woman can do better —Bukola, Ibadan-based apprentice

Adesanya Lateefat Bukola is a female mechanic apprentice at Wax Automobile, Oke-Ado, Ibadan. In this Interview by YUSUF ABDULKADIR, she talks about her interest in the auto mechanic profession, the challenges and her career goals. Excerpts:


What was growing up like for you?

I came from a family of eight and I am the 3rd out of the six children our parents gave birth to. While growing up, I faced a lot of challenges and I give thanks to the Almighty God and my parent that the overwhelming challenges did not take away my life, up till this very moment. I am a single mother and my daughter will turn three very soon. I appreciate and thank my lovely sister for standing by my side during my pregnancy and through the thick and thin period over the years and I pray almighty God rewards her greatly. There is a lot to say but I will keep the rest to myself and thank the almighty for his blessings so far.


At what age did you develop an interest in fixing cars?

I did not develop an interest in fixing cars a long time ago I was employed in this workshop as a secretary and along the line, I developed an interest in the job. Many things led to this, part of which was people’s comments about me whenever I go to purchase equipments like spare parts and other things. Some will even say directly that, “Wow, we have never seen a woman learning mechanic” and commend me for learning the work. All of that motivated me, boost my morale, and made me develop an interest to learn the job which I have never regretted.


Does your educational background have anything to do with your chosen profession?

My educational background does not in any way relate to the mechanic profession. I studied Business Administration at Ibadan Polytechnic and graduated in 2017. Upon graduation, I intended to utilize my knowledge of business administration to start a business but with the situation of things, most especially my inability to raise capital to fund my desired business, I decided to look for how to make ends meet and later start a business when I am a little financially buoyant.


There are numerous feminine skills out there that you can learn, why did you choose mechanic?

Like I said earlier on, I was employed here as a secretary, and along the line, I developed an interest in the profession. Apart from being cheered by people, I see it as a great opportunity to further develop myself as I did not have any skill before my employment as a secretary. Again I have always believed in the ideology that “when any opportunity comes your way, you have to grab it and make the best out of it’” and that was exactly what I did by choosing to learn to become a mechanic.


For how long have you been doing this?

I started learning in late 2020 so it’s about two years now since I started this journey.


Do you at any time face any gender-based discrimination in your course of learning?

Yes, I faced a lot when it comes to that. There are times my colleagues most of whom are guys do underrate me when it comes to unbolting some parts of the vehicle, they believe it is only the men that can do all sorts of work while I give a trial to it most times, and prove them wrong. Sometimes I may not have the strength but I do try my best, like unbolting the filter that connects the oil part of the car so it will not leak and many other instances. I always stay at the forefront and try my best and made them realize “what a man can do, a woman can do better’’. They should not just underrate women.


How did your family and friends react to your decision of becoming an automobile mechanic?

Well, at this very moment none of them knows about me, learning mechanic. All they know is that I work in a mechanic workshop as a secretary and it is not as if I am hiding it from them, I am just focused on learning and I believe It’s an addition to my family and relations by having an automobile engineer in the family and as a friend which in the end, I believe it is a great achievement and something they all would be proud of.


How do you respond to stress and pressure from your colleagues?

I am always focused on my goal which is learning and thriving in this profession. I care less about stress and pressure. I see it as something unavoidable sometimes I get frustrated by my colleagues. Imagine being a  lady learning amid men, such is expected but I just calm myself and learn to live with it which I believe makes me stronger.


What is the best thing about your job?

Though our work may be tedious sometimes or most times but, I love it that way. It is the best.


Where do you see yourself in the next 3-5 years as a mechanic?

I pray to almighty God to have placed me in a better position by then. I hope to have my workshop with a lot of apprentices and make people realize that “what a man can do, a woman can do better. Even though I am not the first lady that will learn mechanic, especially in our workshop ‘Wax Automobile’ many have come to learn and get certified. All thanks to our boss for always giving room to all irrespective of gender and for his guidance and support over the years, he never for once underrate me, despite employing me as his secretary, he gave me the go-ahead and put me through when I told him I will love to learn the job and I also wish to continue the good legacy he has laid.


What advice do you have for ladies out there willing to go into the profession?

I will advise any lady out there willing to learn the mechanics job or other skills to go out there and explore. I encourage them not to be demoralized by people’s comments on them but rather remain focused on achieving their goals. They can only badmouth you but they won’t help your career grow in any way. For those willing to learn auto mobile repair, don’t dull yourself or waste time any longer, the mechanic profession is very interesting and easy to learn, make sure you approach the appropriate quarters and start learning. “Make hay while the sun shines”. No one will mock you when you start making money and enjoying your life. People do criticize me very well, some will even say it to my face but I ignore it all and don’t allow myself to be distracted by the criticisms rather I remain focused.


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