Meet The Youtuber Empowering Girls With Basic Mechanic Skills To Fix Their Own Car

Meet Jessica Chou – the Los Angeles-based Youtuber who is empowering girls while also disrupting a male-dominated industry. Her channel is called Jessicann (And You Can Too!) and is filled with videos where girls and women can learn the basics of fixing their car without feeling intimidated.

She isn’t a mechanic technically, but you certainly don’t have to be in order to do basic maintenance such as changing your oil and knowing when to top up your brake fluid. For a lot of women, a trip to the local mechanic can be intimidating and not always be an environment conducive to asking the right questions. But to have someone arming you with the right knowledge about your vehicle can be empowering, and save you money in the long run.

For Jessica, this journey started back in 2003 when she purchased a Volkswagen off Craigslist without knowing anything about cars. Before too long, it needed repairs so she went down the usual route of getting advice from her dad, going to a mechanic and feeling like she was getting ripped off. She decided she wanted to learn a thing or two about her own car so she wouldn’t feel so helpless each time a repair was needed.

“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 told NBC News in an interview.

Being of Taiwanese descent and the daughter of immigrants, Jessica says her ethnicity also played a role in her experience at the mechanics, along with her gender and age.

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

Eventually she started a Youtube channel which has over 12,000 subscribers. Most of the DIY mechanic channels and videos on the video platform are created by men, so Jessica is already a voice for an underrepresented market in this area.

Because of her popularity online, she connected with the head of the automotive department at Van Nuys High School, Joe Agruso, who says half his students are women, and having another female teach them about something male-dominated makes a huge difference.

“They feel good and hear from other girls that ‘Hey, we can do this. This can be done’,” he told NBC.

Jessica has also had her own booth at the LA Auto Show (where she met Joe Agruso in person for the first time) and gets to chat with women face-to-face about her Youtube channel and why she wants to help them. In an interview with Amy Poehler Smart Girls, she spoke about some of the sexism she has experienced IRL, and the response she has been getting on her videos. She first explained the exact moment she knew she wanted to start her channel.

“I was outside working on my car and a man walked by. He looked at me very confused, and asked ‘What are you doing?’ I told him I was fixing my spark plugs. He then asked, ‘By yourself?’ And I proudly replied, ‘Yes! By myself!’ I’ve never felt more empowered, and I knew I had to find a way to capture that feeling and share it with other girls,” she said.

Youtube is definitely known as a haven for nastiness and trolling in the comments section, but surprisingly Jessica says she has gotten some very positive feedback, some that was quite unexpected.

“I was a bit nervous in the beginning, thinking I would receive tons of comments on how girls can’t work on cars, how we’re not strong enough or smart enough, or just plain nasty comments. While there is some of that, I’ve received a ton of support from girls who also work on cars, girls who are excited to learn about cars now that they’ve seen my videos, guys who share helpful tips, and my favorite — dads excited to show their little girls my videos,” she said.

At the LA Auto Show in 2016, Jessica was part of the first-ever female focused space where women came to learn about cars and maintenance. She said it was also a learning experience for her, and taught her the value of what she was doing with her channel.

“In doing some research, I found that 51% of driver’s license holders are women, over 50% of new cars are purchased by women, 65% of car repair customers are women, and 80% of car buying decisions are influenced by women. So yeah…I’d say we have a pretty good amount of influence in the auto industry,” she said.

There was also another important aspect she wanted to change in terms of the stereotypical ways women are portrayed or involved in the auto industry.

“Having a booth at the LA Auto Show was important to me because I wanted people to get comfortable with the idea and visual of women working on cars. Not posing next to them…WORKING on them,” she said.

She is quick to admit you won’t see her taking apart and working on her car engine in any of her videos, because her channel is all about the basics. Something as simple as knowing when and how to change spark plugs or brake fluid can be empowering for women and girls and help them feel more in control for the times they do have to visit the mechanic.

“Knowledge is power, and the more I learned, the less intimidated I felt,” she said.

When asked why she thinks there is such a lack of women in the auto industry, Jessica says it often comes down to women and girls not seeing enough of themselves represented.

“When we think of a mechanic, we think of men. When we see ads or posters of mechanics, we see men. When we see shows about cars, we see men. It will take a long time to change all of this, but in the 10 short months that I’ve been on this journey, I’ve met so many incredible people who are out to change the game,” she said.

She has met female mechanics, female drag racers, and young girls enrolled in their high school’s mechanics program. It is a worthwhile field to get into, she added, because it is important for female empowerment and advancement within this field.

Her story reminds us a little of Patrice Banks, the Philadelphia-based entrepreneur who quit her Fortune 500 job and opened a mechanic school for women. She made the decision to do this after also feeling intimidated by the male-dominated industry and not being able to find a female mechanic to go to instead.

They say the best ideas are often formed out of necessity, and both Patrice and Jessica Chou are proof of that. We love that Jessica is particularly empowering the younger generation through her Youtube channel, which we highly recommend subscribing to and checking out if you are looking to save some money. Want to know how to figure out what kind of oil your car needs? Watch below:




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