The Lady Was a Mechanic: Mary Feik (1924-2016)

Giacinta Koontz’s article, The Lady Was a Mechanic: Mary Feik (1924-2016), shows how Feik overcame social prejudices to become the first female pilot and mechanic in the United States. Having become an accomplished technician at a period when engineering was exclusively a male industry, Feik’s achievements are not only great, but they also show that both men and women have equal potentials. Feik started her career as a maintenance technician in the Army Air Corps at a young age of about 18 years (Koontz, 2017). Through her determination, she was able to rise to one of the most successful women in the United States.
Feik was born in Ohio, but she later moved to New York with her family, where she discovered her engineering skills. Young Feik assisted her father in his automobile repair shop. She was a fast learner in mechanics, and at 13 years, she could weld, rivet, and overhaul an engine. Her first experience of an airplane ride, which was in a post-World War One JN4 “Jenny,” aroused her desire to become a pilot (Koontz, 2017). Driven by this interest, she seized an opportunity to join the Army Air Corps where she undertook a course in aircraft engine maintenance. By 1941, Feik was already teaching engine repair in a military base in North Carolina. A year later, she became the first female engineer at the Air Technical Service Command Engineering Division at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. In the mid-1950s, she left the army and spent the remaining part of her career working in private organizations (Koontz, 2017). Her skills and resilience made her win various awards including the honorary Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award for her 50 years of service as an aircraft maintenance technician.
One of the main reasons for Feik’s success was her early exposure to engineering. Although this type of work was then a man’s job, her father might have ignored this stereotype, which made him train his daughter on basic mechanics. This exposure was essential in arousing Feik’s interest in technical jobs. Additionally, her early knowledge of how vehicles work enabled her to easily understand how aircrafts operate, which helped her to become a skilled maintenance technician. Feik’s ability to seize opportunities might have also led to her working in the aviation industry. For example, she obtained her knowledge of engines by assisting in her father’s workshop (Koontz, 2017). Similarly, she joined the Army Air Corps at a time when the United States was facing imminent war, and it was desperate to have new soldiers.
From biblical and worldview, the article shows the importance of gender equality and resilience. Koontz makes a vital revelation that in the early 20th century, women were not permitted to work in the aviation industry (Kinnison & Siddiqui, 2016). Consequently, this paper shows that there was some gender-based work-place discrimination in this sector. Current labor laws require people of all sexes to have equal employment opportunities (Lussier & Hendon, 2015). Although the Bible has a lot of male personalities, it also supports equality. In particular, the Bible notes that God created everybody in his image (Genesis 1:26, The New King James Version). Accordingly, people are equal irrespective of their gender. Since there are currently a lot of women working in the aviation industry, most aviation-based companies have made significant efforts in creating similar opportunities for both men and women.
Overall, Koontz’s article, The Lady Was a Mechanic Mary Feik (1924-2016), shows an inspiring story of how Feik managed to become a great technician despite the gender-based profiling that was present in the early 20th century. Accordingly, this paper can be used to motivate women in all sectors to work hard in their professions. Currently, the aviation industry has improved its image as an equal employer; however, it should continue to increase opportunities for women given that it is still a male-dominated sector.
Kinnison, H., & Siddiqui, T. (2013). Aviation maintenance management (2nd ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Inc.
Koontz, G. (2017, July). The lady was a mechanic: Mary Feik (1924-2016)., 14-16. Retrieved from
Lussier, R., & Hendon, J. (2015). Human resource management: Functions, applications, and skill development (2nd ed.) New York, NY: SAGE Publications Inc.