Phoenix’s Girl Gang Garage wants more women in automotive trades

At Girl Gang Garage in the middle of the shop, there’s a 1961 Volvo PV544….

At Girl Gang Garage in the middle of the shop, there’s a 1961 Volvo PV544. It’s a funky little car with a curvy, cartoonish design, but it doesn’t look like much of anything right now. It’s stripped down to bare metal in the early stages of a complete restoration.

Jana Warnke is working on smoothing out the surfaces around the passenger side door. She hasn’t done much bodywork like this before, but she’s a former salon owner and nail technician so the filing tools she’s using feel surprisingly familiar.

“If it needs to be smooth, I’ll find a way to make that happen,” Warnke says, with a laugh. 

Warnke traveled all the way from the Seattle area for the chance to train in Phoenix’s Girl Gang Garage. She’s been going to school to become an automotive technician, but says this experience has been more welcoming than other shops she’s worked in.

“There’s a lot of skill-building that we might almost be intimidated to ask,” Warnke says. “We can do all those things here more readily.”

That female-friendly atmosphere is exactly the point, says Bogi Lateiner, one of the founders of the Girl Gang Garage.