“Hello, sir, how may I be of help to you today?” asked Oluwaseun. But instead of the stranger responding as calmly as she initiated, he blurted out that he would prefer to see her father instead.
If he didn’t want to see her because of a lack of knowledge, it would have been understandable, but the potential customer did not want to see her because of an undue stereotype.
With persistence and excitement for the day’s job, Oluwaseun remained determined to ensure that the stranger found her worthy of being consulted.
She reiterated, “Is there anything wrong with your car? I could check and fix it for you because my dad is not here. Let me just check it out before he gets here.”
In a hostile response, the man exclaimed, “I will wait for your father to come back; it’s his help that I need, not yours.”
These and many more are some of the demeaning comments and actions Oluwaseun receives for pursuing her skill of interest.
Sarah Oluwaseun developed an interest in her father’s business as a car mechanic at a very tender age and started learning when she was 14 years old, back in 2014.
“It all started when I followed my dad to his workshop when I was in JSS1. I developed an interest immediately, made it known to my dad, and started learning in no time,” she told Prime Progress.
The 23-year-old continued learning, unlearning, and relearning until she got a hold of the basics required of her as a mechanic. Soon, it was time to practice on her own.
“I work on cars as a car audio technician. I sell, install, and repair car stereos of different products, including car speakers for both front and back doors, car DVD stereos and their reverse cameras, car woofers, and car amplifiers.”
Oluwaseun, who was born and raised in Niger State, combined education with skill learning, with the vision of intertwining both and expanding it into a bigger one in the near future.
A scornful journey through passion
Oluwaseun’s experience as a female mechanic has not been easy because she has endured constant stigma from various people, particularly men, who think she is unfit for that line of work.
“Just like the stranger who was mean to me, these people do not even give me the benefit of the doubt. All they do is look at me with demeaning eyes and conclude that I am incapable and unworthy of fixing their cars,” she explained.
Not just from strangers, the young men working together in her father’s workshop, despite seeing all that she is capable of, still think she is unfit for the job.
“I had problems with the men that I worked with. They think that my father wastes so much time teaching me and that I am just hiding under his shadow because he owns the place. As such, they prefer I do other things like sewing, catering, hairstyling, or any other skill that feels more feminine to them.”
Oluwaseun, in all of this, was left to continue building the strength of her character to be able to handle all of these situations since they came both internally and externally. She had to keep pushing, not to prove anything to anyone, but because she had a passion for it.
“Another experience that made me lose hope at one point was when a man came to fix his speakers from the shop. He complained that my dad didn’t do a good job the last time, and I offered to fix it.”
“He bounced on me in an aggressive tone, saying it was disrespectful of me to approach him with such an offer. We waited for my dad to come back. When he came, I was still assigned to fix it because my father always wants to push me to do it because he knows I am capable,” she narrated to Prime Progress.
Thankfully, in all of this, Oluwaseun was motivated to learn and work even harder to achieve her desired goals.
Love, Persistence, and growth!
Amidst all that Oluwaseun has gone through, she received love and support from the people who mattered the most: her family and friends.
“Yes, my family and friends support me, and I get a lot of recommendations from them. My dad especially pushes me to go the extra mile. He does not believe that I cannot do anything; as a matter of fact, he believes I can do everything. That is why he makes me do the job that some of his customers think I cannot do,” she narrated to Prime Progress.
The love and support she gets enable her to stand firm on her decisions.
“I get positive comments from people whom I think have good intentions towards me. They are mostly married men who go to the extent of collecting my contact in the name of future engagements. After a while, they switch to asking me out on a date or pleading that I become their girlfriend. I get so much of that, but thankfully, I am a focused girl with all the love and support she needs. All I would want is for them to stop this habit.” She expressed her utter dissatisfaction.
Oluwaseun believes that women have a gazillion opportunities to explore and that society should pave smooth thresholds for themto explore all that they love to do.
“I believe that if women come together, we can make a difference in the world. It shouldn’t be that men do everything. We can prove them wrong because in the world we live in today, there are maximum opportunities for women to explore. All we need is support,” she said.
The young lady also leverages the use of social media to advertise all that she does.
“I usually post content on WhatsApp and Facebook to let people know about me. But for now, I am focusing on my 200-level exams in school. When I am done, I will continue from where I stopped,” she added.
The hurtful and discouraging words from people towards Oluwaseun only serve to fuel her determination to pursue the things she loves doing. Just like she responded to the stranger who belittled and addressed her harshly, she always kept their jaws dropped.