Girls rule in Bemidji auto shop class

It’s pretty hard to learn auto repair when you’re a woman. Just ask the northern Minnesota students at Bemidji High School, where a mixed-gender class is pretty much dominated by the guys.

Auto repair? Girls? Please. You know how it goes.

So give some credit to Andy Olson, a long-time industrial arts teacher at the school. He created a girls-only auto shop class, the Bemidji Pioneer reports today.

When he taught entry-level auto shop to a mixed class, he usually had about four or five girls enroll.

“There’s just a really big stigma that this is like a guy’s place, and when a girl’s there, there’s lots of either catcalls or you’re kind of treated like you’re kind of stupid,” sophomore Serena Johnson tells the paper.

When the girls-only class was offered, 75 enrolled.

“I didn’t want it to be a watered-down version,” Olson said. “What we really wanted to do was create an environment that they didn’t feel intimidated by.”

The long-term effects of the decision could be enormous.