Girl horsepower

Gadsden auto tech helping to “ford” gender gap in American service bays

From the time she gripped the wheel of her first car as a licensed 16-year-old driver, automotive service technician Somer Marpole has spent much of her days living and learning beneath the hood. 

Repairing and servicing automobiles, it seems, is in the Orange City, Florida native’s blood. Marpole’s grandfather was a professional mechanic with his own shop, and her dad was a lifelong shade-tree tinkerer – not a mechanic by trade, but extraordinarily well-versed in the inner workings of the internal combustion engine, nonetheless. Wanting to ensure his 16-year-old daughter could fend for herself should she ever find herself stranded on the roadside, it was Marpole’s father who sparked her love of life beneath the hood. Thanks in large part to Dad’s encouragement and guidance, Marpole would never have to call AAA or look to a man for answers when her mode of travel failed to perform as expected. 

“When I turned 16, I got my first vehicle and he [Marpole’s father] wanted me to learn how to fix it in case I got broken down on the road, especially being a female,” Marpole recalled. “And ever since then, my interest in working on cars just grew.”

Indeed, since those early days working alongside her father on her own car, Marpole has spent many-a-night and day drenched in sweat and motor oil, her hands grasping wrenches and the gears in her sharp, inquisitive mind perpetually turning – seeking out the elusive causes of engine trouble and the other roots of modern motorists’ headaches. For Marpole, helping others goes hand-in-hand with technical prowess. She gained the latter at Universal Technical Institute, where she was a standout automotive repair students. But the former – the “helping others” part – blossomed largely in the service bay Havana Ford. 

It was at the longtime local Ford dealership that Marpole landed her first “real-world” job about a year ago; and it was through servicing the cars, trucks and SUVs of Gadsden County residents that the fresh young tech school grad has gained a passion for the “service” portion of her job title: Ford service technician.

“It gave me another perspective on things, from actually diagnosing vehicle issues and more toward helping people,” Marpole said of her experience so far at Havana Ford. The local dealership has been an ideal incubator for the well-learned, but inexperienced big-city girl – the slower pace and friendly atmosphere of the local service shop proving conducive to learning. Though not lost on Marpole that she’s a young woman operating in what has historically been – and to a large extent still is – a man’s world, her gender is of little importance to her when it comes to performing her day-to-day duties.

“It doesn’t really make a difference to me,” Marpole said of her choosing to work in a male-dominated industry. “I feel like anybody can do any job as long as they put their mind to it.” 

Marpole may give little heed to her unique position, but Ford leadership certainly has. This past Monday, execs from Ford’s regional offices and even national headquarters dropped by Havana’s small Ford store to congratulate Marpole on her recent appearance in a national article spotlighting Ford’s female service techs. Marpole may have humbly attempted to downplay the recognition, but her mother – Barbara Simons, who drove up from Orange City for the special presentation – was welling with pride.

“I’m very proud,” Simons said Monday. “I was so excited to learn that my daughter is being honored in this way.” 

As for Simons’ thoughts on her daughter’s chosen career path? 

“I support her in whatever she wants to do. I’m behind my children 100 percent,” she said.

Read the original article featuring Marpole here.


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