In male-dominated industries like collision repair, women are often paid less for the same jobs that men hold, and only a low percentage make it to the top of the career ladder.
In many cases, it's still a good-old-boy system in the body shop world. But Lynn White, 59, has been thriving in it for almost a quarter of a century and isn't even remotely thinking about retirement.
She's the manager at Walker Collision Center in Alexandria, LA, a town that is proud to be at the precise center of the state. With 14 employees in a shop that repairs approximately 150--200 cars every month, it's a busy place, but this seasoned veteran isn't afraid to jump in when needed. White always strives to be better at her job because she knows that someone is waiting to take it if she isn't always on top of her game.
At age 35, White decided to jump back into the working world with both feet, an existence with which she was already familiar and anxious to pursue.
"Being a stay-at-home mom is a tough job, believe me," she said. "When the kids started going off to school, I knew I wanted to work, and since my husband was working in the same industry as a service manager, I thought, ‘Why not?’ I know the business, and I had a lot to learn, but I thought I could succeed if I worked hard and went for it."
Hard work has never been an issue for White, she said, and that's why she hit the ground running when she landed her first job at an independent body shop in 1994.
"My family had a business for many years in Forest City, AR, selling tobacco and candy wholesale to mom-and-pop grocery stores," she said. "It involved driving around and visiting the stores, and I developed a real work ethic during those years. In my job now as a collision center manager, you need sales and interpersonal skills to keep everyone happy and on the same page, and I learned a lot about sales back then."