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Fixing cars, breaking barriers

Waveland auto tech excels in male-dominated field

Some women wear heels to the office and spend their working hours in front of a computer. Others, like Elisha “Lelee” George, wield wrenches for a living and know as much about cars as any man.

Elisha “Lelee” George, auto technician at Bayou Motors in Waveland

“Some men feel like women aren’t good enough or strong enough to work on vehicles; I have encountered this before,” says George, an automotive technician at Bayou Motors in Waveland. “I do not let it bother me, and I keep on doing my job to the best of my ability.”

The New Orleans native is the kind of woman who furthers the mission of International Women’s Day: to create a more inclusive, less gender-biased world. Adopted by the United Nations as a global holiday in 1977, International Women’s Day is observed annually on March 8 to celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness of women’s issues, push for positive change and fundraise for female-focused causes.

“I think it is great, and everyone should feel included,” George says of this year’s theme, #embraceequity. “We are all the same and created equally in the eyes of God.”

Having found success in a male-dominated field, George maintains that women can do anything they set their minds to. At one time, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do
with her life, but she knew she enjoyed helping people and working with her hands.

“As a single mother raising three boys, I left New Orleans so I could give my children a better life,” George recalls. “My stepfather is an automotive technician, and I really enjoyed helping him repair vehicles.”

While her gender and skin color have aroused bias and caused some uncomfortable situations, George acknowledges that “not everyone treats women or black women this way.”

“I just ignore the negative and focus on the positive, she says. “I cannot change their feelings about me, but I still treat them respectfully.”

“I just ignore the negative and focus on the positive, she says. “I cannot change their feelings about me, but I still treat them respectfully.”

Gender bias may be improving, but not enough to satisfy George. When it comes down to it, most employers in her field still would prefer to hire a male, she says, and she remains an anomaly in the auto industry. To break the gender bias for good, she adds, more women must enter and thrive in male-dominated fields.

“The more women that are in these roles, the more accepted we will become,” George says.

For her part, the dedicated mechanic keeps listening, learning and striving to reach her full potential. Her sons are her greatest motivation, and her dream is to buy a home for her family one day — showing her boys what an unstoppable force a strong woman can be.

“As long as you believe in yourself, you can do anything you want,” George says. “Nothing and no one can hold you back.”

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