17-Year-Old Student Gu Huijing Breaks Gender Stereotypes at a Car Repair Competition
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When people think of auto mechanics, they typically picture a man. Car repair is a male-dominated industry, but just because this is considered the norm, doesn’t mean women aren’t suitable to be a mechanic.
Gu Huijing is a perfect example of why women deserve to have equal opportunities in the field. The 17-year-old student recently won a car repair competition and became a celebrity in China for her car repair skills.
Not only did her performance bring her fame, but it’s also helping to break gender boundaries in the industry.
Gu Huijing won first place in a car repair competition
The South China Morning Post reported on Huijing's story. She’s a student at Shenzhen No. 2 Vocational Technical School who outperformed her peers and took first place in the car repair competition. The car repair contest was open to vocational school students in Guangdong province.
Huijing is the first female in the province to take part in and win the competition that happened in April. She also broke her school's record for disassembly and assembly of a car engine—completing the task in just 26 minutes. The school's previous record stood at half a minute slower than the time it took Huijing.
Pushed by her passion for car repair, Huijing overcame initial discomfort with grease and grime. For the four months leading up to the competition, she woke up at 6 am and worked late into the night to prepare.
Huijing is trying to help break gender stereotypes
Huijing knows that she's helping to break gender stereotypes with her accomplishment. "Many people think auto repair belongs to men, and that it doesn't suit women. This is a stereotype," she said. She added that women may have advantages, including being "more focused on details."
The teenager said she has been interested in cars since childhood and enjoys the smell of gasoline and the sound of the engine. Despite her affinity for cars, Huijing's family didn't support her decision to major in auto technology.
"They thought auto repair is useless for girls. They wanted me to learn something easy for girls to work on, something leading to a job with a comfortable working environment," she said. Huijing's accomplishment is particularly significant in China, where there’s a stigma against women studying vocational trades.
Huijing gains popularity on social media and inspires others
Huijing is helping to shatter the idea of gender norms. On Chinese social media, people are praising her for not giving in to stereotypes and fighting against gender-based prejudice in vocational education.
The story of Huijing winning the competition has received more than 200 million reads on Weibo with more than 22,000 comments posted. Many of the people commenting on the article are calling for gender stereotypes to be abolished.
Huijing may inspire more women to pursue trades and vocational education. One commenter wrote "for issues that don't require large muscles to solve, men and women start from the same starting line. The difference lies only in whether one is willing to spend more effort."
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