26 October 2017

Carrying The Wrench For Her Husband

About three weeks ago, I wrote, in passing, about my days as a bike mechanic. I mentioned, among other things, that during the time I worked in bike shops, I knew of no female mechanics and that all of the female bike shop employees I knew about were salespeople.

These days, slowly but steadily increasing numbers of (mostly young) women are donning shop aprons and picking up wrenches.  Some are no doubt encouraged by women-only bike repair classes offered by Recycle A Bicycle and other cooperatives, as well as a few bike shops and other cycling-related organizations.  Also, as I mentioned in my post, Quality Bicycle Products is co-sponsoring scholarships for women to attend the two-week Professional Repair and Shop Operations classes at the United Bicycle Institute.

Najia al-Natour is not likely to attend such classes.  Then again, she doesn't need to: She had a "pro" as a teacher.  In fact, she was married to him.

The 73-year-old Palestinian used to work alongside her husband in front of the house they shared.  He died 12 years ago, leaving her as the sole breadwinner for her family.  Given that there aren't many options available for residents of the Balata refugee camp, where she now lives, and that many residents of the camp and its surrounding area get around on bikes in various states of disrepair, it made sense for her to continue in her husband's profession, despite some opposition.

According to the article I read about her, that opposition came from her children and grandchildren.  I assume that it had something to do with her age, though it may also have to do with her doing a "man's" job.  Whatever the reasons for their, or anyone else's, objections, she doesn't care:  She is proud of her job, she says.

As well she should be.


  1. Now you mention it I have never seen ANY female bike mechanics in the shops, but an increasing number I have found are able to do simple on road repairs. And this i think is due to the increasing availability of courses aimed at women cyclists. it is good to see

  2. Peter--I, too, have seen more female riders who can do basic road repairs. I'm glad to hear you're seeing it in England. In a way, that's even more gratifying than seeing female bike mechanics: I am all for women--and people generally--being as self-sufficient as possible.