YouTuber Wants to Inspire Women and Girls to Fix Cars - NBC Southern California
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YouTuber Wants to Inspire Women and Girls to Fix Cars

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Jessica Chou is a YouTuber who wants to inspire women and girls to do the things they shy away from, like fixing cars. Gordon Tokumatsu reports for the NBC4 News at 11 on Sunday, May 21, 2017. (Published Monday, May 22, 2017)

    The world of auto mechanics remains dominated by men, but one feisty entrepreneur is trying to empower young women by showing them there's nothing to fear when it comes to looking under the hood.

    Jessica Chou clearly remembers the day she was doing some minor servicing on her beloved 2003 Volkswagen Jetta. A man walked by and asked her what she was doing. So she told him.

    "He looked so confused ... and he said, 'By yourself?'"

    Chou says her desire to do her own basic automotive work came about for a couple of reasons. First, she had an old, somewhat unreliable car. Second, she wanted to save a little money. And third? Trips to the mechanic were really starting to bother her.

    Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort

    "I was so sick of feeling like I was going to be taken advantage of. A: for being a woman, and B: because I didn't know anything about cars," she said.

    Throw in the old stereotypes about her ethnicity: Taiwanese-American and a daughter of immigrants.

    She says even if they're not accurate, sometimes these preconceived notions can determine how people interact with you.

    "Going in there, very quiet, not asking any questions, not holding them accountable," Chou said. "Being Asian, for me, it took a while to find my voice."

    So she started her own YouTube channel. Chou says it's designed to empower young women and girls to learn about something that's still a very male-dominated endeavor.

    That's how she made a connection with Joe Agruso. He runs the automotive department at Van Nuys High School.

    The two met at her first-ever female-based exhibit at the last LA Auto Show. She YouTubed the whole thing and her beloved Jetta was the star.

    "I put a little bow on it and I think she looks as cute as ever!"

    Chou wanted to let women know that automotive work is not just "guy stuff." You can be a "girly girl" too.

    And Agruso gets it. Nearly half his students are women.

    "They feel good and hear from other girls that 'Hey, we can do this. This can be done,'" Agruso said.

    Chou was so delighted with Agruso's approach that she donated her Jetta to his classroom.

    It broke her heart a little, but was so worth it, she said.

    The car is already making an impressing on a new generation of female mechanics.

    They told NBC4 that the problem with other do it yourself automotive YouTubers is that most are men.

    "So it's more breaking everything down. And not really, like, fun," student Andrea Vasquez said.

    The Asian American, self-professed "girly girl" wants young women to no longer feel intimidated when they walk into the auto repair shop.

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