Her Story. A series of blog posts telling the stories of 'women who ride' from all corners of the globe. We hope that by sharing these stories we can help encourage other women to build their confidence, learn from others and inspire others.
This month we have a story by Erin Fairman. An absolute champ from Wollongong who is holding her own in a man's world and showing what you can achieve if you keep pursuing your dreams.
We hope you enjoy her story.
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"My name is Erin Fairman and I am 26 years old from Wollongong.
My Dad was the main influence for my passion for motorcycles, he is a major motorcycle enthusiast and has ridden a Harley-Davidson my whole life.
He bought my brother a Peewee 50 when he was 5 years old and would ride it around the backyard with me on his lap, I was 3. I always knew as soon as I could reach those pegs I was going to be off!
Riding motorcycles was just what my family did and have always done. We rode in a Motorcycle Club every Sunday for pretty much my whole childhood, we would set out early in the morning and return late in the evening. Mum also had her road license ever since she was a teen, so some weekends she would pop me on the back of her bike and Dad with my brother and we would head out on local toy runs and events.
My parents are both hands on, creative people who will give anything a go, so I guess I had no choice but to be the same. Dad use to make us learn about our bikes and help him service and maintain them after ride days. The older we got the more in-depth and independent it became.
Even into my teenage years I still loved to spend Sundays with my Dad at the track, exploring trails or hanging out in the garage. I also started to become more interested in his Harley-Davidson and would join him as a pillion on longer and longer runs, reaching up to about 10 hour trips.
As I started to finish school I knew I didn’t want to work in an office and was creative and good with my hands. I toiled with the idea of joining the ARMY as a mechanic and did all my work experience in local garages. I wasn’t a hundred percent sold on working on cars everyday so decided that it might not be for me. After giving up on making a decision I moved to the USA to work at a summer camp as a motorcycle instructor. Spending my days at the dirty track teaching kids to ride peewee 50’s, dune buggies and ATVs was an absolute dream come true! I would spend downtime in the shed chatting with the mechanic and doing what I could.
When I returned after a year I knew I wanted to ‘be someone’, I wanted a title and thought an apprenticeship was the way to get that. My brother is a qualified Hydraulics Engineer from an apprenticeship and his knowledge just blows me away. I started applying to all automotive type of positions. Eventually a small, dirty engine reconditioning business was looking for a general hand that could eventuate to an apprentice role. They told me that they had been through numerous people who just couldn’t hack it, but was willing to give me ago if I was up for the challenge.
I will forever be grateful to them for giving me a go. Everyday I would ride my registered dirt bike in my steel caps to a job I absolutely loved. My role was to strip down engine blocks, clean, sand-blast and re-assemble heads. The boys new I was passionate about bikes and old classic cars and were always patient in teaching me everything they could. I was still eager to become an apprentice and regularly checked the job sites just in-case.
One day to my amazement Harley-Davidson were seeking new apprentices and I applied without blinking. To my surprise, I managed to get a call back to each stage of the process. Every time I would have to quickly leave my job and race up to Sydney from Wollongong to try and make each appointment, I never had time to get ready so I was always absolutely filthy from cleaning carbon all day (my mum use to say I looked like a chimney sweep). Everyone else was all dressed in proper interview attire and I stuck out like a sore thumb. Me and my Dad believe that’s probably what got me the job in the end.
Working on and riding Harley-Davidsons everyday was an absolute dream come true! I did face a lot of hardship being female in a male-dominated environment but I am proud to say I persevered and became the second woman in Australia and New-Zealand to graduate from the specialised Harley-Davidson training.
Even though I love being on the tools and in a workshop, I was given a fantastic opportunity to expand my abilities with a completely new job role. I am currently working as Journal Editor and Media Support for the Institute of Automotive Mechanical Engineers.
The IAME has allowed me to continue my growth and development throughout the Automotive Industry and meet some amazingly talented people. I have been lucky enough to also create a new division of the IAME – Pistons & Pearls, women in automotive. Pistons & Pearls was created to help support and recognise women in the male dominated, automotive industry; provide a comfortable environment, information seminars, yearly awards and a common place for interaction among like-minded females.
I have also recently joined The Litas in Sydney, which are a women’s motorcycle riders group. Since joining I have been without a bike but hopefully will have the opportunity to join them on rides in the very near future.
I am very lucky to be surrounded by what I love everyday, all day and continue to build and ride motorcycles. My advice is just do what makes you happy and don’t give up on achieving your dreams, whatever they may be.
Please show your support for women in the automotive industry by following us at www.facebook.com/pistonsandpearls.wia"
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Thank you to Erin for sharing her story and if you would like to share your story with us simply go to the Contact Page of the website and fill in the form and we will gladly be in touch.
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