MAN Truck & Bus


The only woman among bus-wrenchers


Katharina Ansorge is a vehicle mechatronics technician and has been working as a technician in MAN’s service centre in Frankfurt since 2017, for a long time as the only woman among twelve men. Katharina’s job is to repair and maintain public buses. In this interview, she tells us what it is like for her in a male-dominated profession, what benefits she brings to the team and why more women should be interested in working on heavy buses and trucks.

Katharina, what made you choose this career and what do you enjoy about it?

KATHARINA For me, there have always only been two options when choosing a career: either something to do with animals, because I absolutely love animals, or something with engines. I had been tinkering with cars with my dad from a very early age, so I opted for a job as a mechatronics technician. I really enjoy the variety in particular. Every day brings a new challenge, sometimes very tricky, for example when it comes to diagnosing a vehicle problem. I also value the teamwork – the sheer size of the parts in the commercial vehicle sector often means more cooperative work than on smaller cars.

What does your service team look like?

KATHARINA In the workshop, we have ten male technicians, two male apprentices and just recently a female apprentice too. Our team also has another two female and three male colleagues and another apprentice in the back office. Then there are half a dozen salespeople who also have their offices at our site.

What is it like for you being the only woman in the workshop?

KATHARINA At the start, my colleagues were very critical. However, they’re just the same with new male colleagues too. It takes a while for them to get to know the new person and to know how they work and what they bring to the table. I am accepted as I am, as a fully-fledged member of the team, without any special status because of my gender. I knew what I was doing when I chose this career and so I don’t want any special treatment. Besides, MAN has always shown me that as a woman in the company, I am wanted and valued. For example, an extra women’s changing room was created straight away.

Do you think that interactions within the workshop are different because it isn’t an exclusively male domain any longer?

KATHARINA I can imagine that the verbal interactions are a little different, but we’re still a workshop where things are a bit rougher or louder. In some situations though, the interactions are more sensitive, my colleagues obviously refrain from using certain phrases. That’s also an advantage because there are more and more female truck drivers, and you never know what they will make of coarse language.

The only woman among bus-wrenchers

In your opinion, how do teams benefit from diverse team members?

KATHARINA I think that diverse teams change an incredible amount in interpersonal relationships: women, especially in a workshop, bring a completely different approach when it comes to problems and faults. Differences within a team encourage personal, social development and help to break down prejudices.

You’re married to a woman. Has your sexual orientation ever been a difficult topic at work?

KATHARINA I never came out to my managers during my training, but I never made a secret of the fact that I’m a lesbian to my colleagues. At MAN, it came up in conversation at a barbecue one evening. I then explained that I was with a woman, and everything was fine. When we got married, all my colleagues sent their congratulations. I think that a gay male colleague would find exactly the same.

Why do you think there are so few women in your industry?

KATHARINA The commercial vehicle sector still has a bad reputation. People are unaware how varied the job is and that you don’t just work with a big hammer and welding torch – it involves a lot of electrics and electronics too.

In your opinion, what could service centres do to make technical jobs more attractive to women?

KATHARINA We’d have to work more with interns to show young women what life is really like in a service centre. That would give them a much more comprehensive insight than just a single day, like “Girls’ Day”. My manager has been actively going into schools to reach out to students and inspire them to take up this career. It can be difficult if all the staff are men, for example at the service reception desk. That can make interested women uncertain.

What would you like to share with other women who are thinking about a career in mechatronics?

KATHARINA There are definitely countless new experiences that come with the job. As women, we can show that we don’t need big muscles for everything. We can do things just as well. We might do things differently, but not worse. And sometimes, you just have to rise to the challenge.

A close-knit service network

MAN offers a close-knit network of skilled sales and servicing partners: with 140 MAN service centres, more than 200 MAN service partners and in collaboration with strategic partner the Tiemann Group, the company maintains and repairs trucks, buses and vans in every region of Germany, even looking after industrial and marine engines at selected locations.

Find out more about the MAN servicing partners.

This article is part of the "Faces of Diversity" series

Here we feature the lives and careers of some of our employees from around the world. These stories make us think, inspire us and show how diversity and an open mind drive our success as a company.

Faces of Diversity graphic artwork

Text   Renate Wachinger
Photos   MAN

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