Every now and then - and I wish it were more often - we receive emails from hopeful young women wondering what it takes to become a motoring journalist, and what it's like to be one of just a few ladies in a male-dominated gig.
Not just emails, either. Any time I'm asked what I do for a crust, friends and acquaintances are visibly surprised to learn that I'm heavily into cars, and that I'm privileged enough to write and talk about them for a living.
So, today, International Women's Day, seemed like the right time to answer those questions here in our Ask CarAdvice section. I hope this offers some insight for all you hopefuls, and for anybody just plain curious about my job!
My life changed dramatically after winning the CarAdvice Correspondent competition in late 2015.
I moved from country Victoria to the big city, changed career direction from news radio production to an automotive-focused recording and writing gig, and sold my beloved daily driver. It has been a challenging, yet unforgettable ride.
Over this time, I've discovered I'm a rare specimen. I'm both a motoring journalist, and a woman.
To coincide with International Women’s Day, I thought I would give you an insight into what it’s like working in such a male-dominated industry.
I'm now the only female journo working with CarAdvice (our beloved Tegan returned to her hometown to be with family and pursue her own dream; in news radio, coincidentally!), adding to just a small handful of women motoring journalists in the country. There's just not enough of us, and it's sad.
A lot of women love cars, but many have never considered they can make a career out of it.
When I started in the Melbourne office, there was just one other woman here, and I’m happy to say we have now doubled in size to four. Out of 20 employees in our office, we still have a way to go, but we are getting there.
All my colleagues love cars, but as a journalist, you really need to know your stuff.
I come from a radio background, with zero qualifications in journalism; so it has taken me a while to get settled, but learning the ropes of new cars has been fun. This new-found knowledge has been added to my already strong knowledge of classic cars.
When I began with CarAdvice, I didn’t even know what 'AEB' or 'DRL' meant. Today, I can hear a sentence around the office loaded with just about every acronym under the sun, and I know exactly what it means.
Without pumping up my own tyres – pun intended – I have a basic understanding of a car engine, certainly more than some of the guys in our office (she's talking about me - Stevo), and I can change a tyre and do an oil change. This is all thanks to my Dad, who taught me all this when I bought my first car at 14.
I will also happily say I had the fastest go-kart lap (Alborz was sulking for days) at our Christmas break-up, and narrowly beat our CEO in an Editorial car challenge.
I suppose I’m 'one of the guys' now, and I actually don’t mind, as I don’t get treated differently because I’m a woman.
There have been occasions when I’ve found I like a particular car’s styling or colour more than the guys, but that’s really how far it goes. Oh, and there's also the fact they've never let me live down that I used to own a bright yellow 2000 Volkswagen Beetle.
You know, truthfully, I never stop and think I'm surrounded by men. To me, they’re car people, and gender doesn’t really come into the equation with my colleagues.
We all have one big thing in common, and that's what brings us all together. Perhaps coming from another male-heavy industry, radio, it has made it easier for me to be comfortable around a lot of men.
My main job is to look after all things audio, including the podcast, so you’ll often find me with my trusty beaten-up headphones, or editing audio, or running around recording door thunks and exhaust sounds.
Occasionally I will review a car, and I admit that most of the time it will be female-focused, like a mid-sized SUV or a small sports car such as the Mazda MX-5.
Quite often, it’s the woman in a relationship that makes the final decision when purchasing a car, so being able to relate to the majority of car buyers certainly makes my job a unique one.
My love for classic cars made me the obvious choice to 'compare' an old-school Abarth with the new one, and of course I did a similar piece for the old Beetle and the 'new' one. And, psst, check out this one on the BMW M3 30 Jahre...
Over the nearly two years working for CarAdvice, I’ve discovered you need three things to be an automotive journalist:
Firstly, a passion for cars. All day we talk about cars, even on lunch breaks and drinks after work. Without that passion, it would make coming to work rather hard.
Secondly, ears. Without listening, you cannot learn, and I have found I'm learning something new every day. We have guys working here who have been journalists for many years, even decades, so they are full of wisdom.
And lastly, a sense of humour, if only to put up with Paul Maric’s bad jokes because I sit next to him.
If you are a woman considering a job within this industry and you are passionate about cars, please pursue it. Hell, please get in touch with us!
Not only will you be working with like-minded car-obsessed people, but you will join the very elite club of female motoring journalists.
And we will happily welcome you with open arms.