IN the 57 years Corkhill Brothers have been running they have never employed a female mechanic – that is until Sarah Thompson came along. Miss Thompson beat out several male applicants for a position at the company and has finally signed off her paperwork on Friday, June 8, to become a qualified diesel mechanic.
Owner of Corkhill Brothers, Phillip Corkhill said they hadn’t hired a female before because there simply weren’t any interested in the first place. ‘‘It’s a very male orientated trade, there’s not many females in the trade,’’ he said. ‘‘Sarah’s very good, she fitted in and is capable and conscientious. She’s a great role model for any younger women interested in the trade.’’
So dedicated is the Queanbeyan woman to her chosen profession, she completed her certificate III in automotive mechanical technology (heavy vehicle) about six months early. Miss Thompson said people were usually very surprised when they learnt she was a diesel mechanic. She is a self-confessed ‘‘girly girl’’ who likes dressing up after work hours and wears black nail polish so the grease marks aren’t as obvious.
Miss Thompson said growing up on a farm meant she wasn’t afraid of getting her hands dirty but she never thought she would be in the workshop. ‘‘I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I had worked in hospitality and retail, my Dad was a mechanic so I went and worked with him and I loved it,’’ she said. ‘‘I’m one of four girls so I think Dad was just glad to have someone to help him in the shed.’’
Miss Thompson began studying in Sydney’s Wetherill Park, starting her apprenticeship in Bathurst before coming to Canberra to finish it with Corkhill Brothers. She also had two children in that time, two-year-old Michael and Kathryn Clarke, 18 months.
‘‘Honestly I have no idea how [I balanced study and a family], the hardest was the cost of daycare,’’ she said. ‘‘I think the key is having a supportive family, they helped as much as they could and I had the drive and determination to finish. I wouldn’t let anything get in my way.’’
Miss Thompson said her job included servicing and repairing heavy vehicles and machinery, plant equipment, loaders and excavators. ‘‘It’s very diverse, there’s something different every day and it’s a very hands-on experience I guess,’’ she said. ‘‘There’s so much to learn and the industry is always changing.’’
Miss Thompson said she would have no problems if little Kathryn decided to follow in her footsteps. She said being a female has never been a negative. ‘‘I do get treated a little differently, most of it is good here and at TAFE. Most of the time I was treated equally,’’ she said. ‘‘I get help when I need extra muscle and strength, I can’t lift some of the same things and the bolts but there are now tools to get around it.’’