The greatest challenge in putting together Friday's story about ways to inspire women to become gearheads was finding an image for the top of the story that didn't support the kind of stereotypes about females and cars we were trying to discourage.

It was so bad we ended up settling for a black-and-white shot from the Getty Images archive dating back to the 1930s.

Maybe the best way to inspire women to work on cars would actually be to provide some photographic proof of a woman working on a car who isn't either in a bikini or perplexed by simple tools.

Every bad stereotype about cars is present when searching for something as simple as "woman mechanic" in the various stock photo services we typically use. Most of the photos aren't even of mechanics who also happen to have two X chromosomes, but photos of women standing next to male mechanics trying to affect a confused pose.

As inaccurate as the photos of the women who can't use tools are the photos of women who seem to use them only as sex objects. These women are typically sweaty, covered in grease, and somehow replacing a transmission while wearing only high heels, cutoffs and a skimpy top.

Safety first, ladies!

"We haven't come very far," Jezebel's Dodai Stewart tells me when I show her some of the photos. "But it's strange because I think of Fast Five and Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny, which was like twenty years ago. A woman who is into cars portrayed in a realistic way is not unheard of, its just an uphill battle."


I agree that Mona Lisa Vita from My Cousin Vinny is a great, positive example. Yes, she's hopelessly beautiful, but her car knowledge doesn't make her a sexless tomboy nor does it seem to cause her to don a swimsuit, slather herself in oil and jump under a car. She is a woman. She knows cars. End of story.

Click through the gallery to see the most common and strangest stereotypes about women and cars found on stock photo websites.

Photo Credit: Big Stock Photo

A Sweaty Woman Mechanic With Tools

What It Says: Before going to the shop this woman douses herself in salad dressing, pulls up most of her shirt, finds her tallest stripper heels, and clutches a wrench as if it were a penis. Just like grandpa used to do when he worked in the shop!

Photo Credit /

Conspicuously Clean Woman Mechanic In A Sundress In Heels

What It Says: There are dozens of versions of this photo and, as a car guy, I get the attraction. The dresses are flowy and always above the knee. Legs poke out of the car suggestively. There are never any faces so you can imagine anyone there. Of course, no one can, should, or would work on a car that way. And if they did, they wouldn't be spotless for long.

Photo Credit /

Conspicuously Greasy Woman Mechanic Nowhere Near A Car

What It Says: Working on cars is dirty business and you're going to get covered in grease and oil. This is partially true, but not because you've been rubbing it on your mostly bare chest. These photos almost never show a woman near an actual car for some reason.

Photo Credit Piotr Krze?lak/

A Woman Mechanic Who Doesn't Know How To Use Tools

What It Says: Hah, silly woman. You have no idea how to use tools. You're using a hammer! How silly of you.

Photo Credit /BigStockPhoto

A Woman Mechanic Who Wants To Kill Herself With Jumper Cables

What It Says: I'm not sure, but this photo occurs more frequently than you'd imagine.

Photo Credit /BigStockPhoto

A Normal Woman Mechanic Working On A Normal Car Normally

What It Says: Look. A normal person. Working on a car. These photos do exist! They're just overwhelmed by all the other ridiculous ones.

Photo Credit /BigStockPhoto

Woman Mechanic In A Tire And A Dress For Some Reason

What It Says: The keywords for this included "mechanic" as well as "vulcanized" and "erotica" because nothing is more erotic than vulcanized tires from a mechanic who sits in your tires before mounting them on your car.

Photo Credit tadija/