Breaking Gender Barriers in the Automotive Industry

by | Jul 14, 2011

Breaking barriers in the automotive industry

Breaking gender barriers in the automotive industry

The first female intern

A woman’s life in the professional world is fascinating! The wonder of it all is composed by simple actions. I didn't realize this until I had the opportunity to share my past experiences with a new friend.

In my first job, about one year before graduating in electronic engineering,  I was accepted in the traditionally male-dominated automotive industry in Brazil  and was hired to work in the After Sales department.  I didn't realize then what a breakthrough it was for the company to hire a female intern for that particular function. I was the first one! I was actually part of breaking gender barriers in the automotive industry.

And imagine that a few years later,  that group was 40% female, including the manager. The company finally noticed that women can be very good professionals in a field that was once dominated by men  and that we have qualities and strengths that are essential to complete the team.

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Tested

A few months later I was promoted from intern to employee even though I had not yet graduated. At that time I was chosen to coordinate technical training , delivered to the dealers’ mechanics and electricians as well as the instructors. Having to trust a soon to be engineer was already difficult for them, imagine a woman! But everything changed a few weeks after I started there. During one of the training sessions, the instructor, the most experienced one, called me to help with a technical problem he was having. When I went to him, I noticed all the participants - who would never trust a woman for that specific subject- staring at me! I asked what the problem was and I was able to easily solve it… thank God! Now I have enough knowledge and life experience to realize that I was being tested, which back then I ignored. Being young, I was also very naïve, not yet aware of the prejudice women can suffer in the workplace, especially the gender barriers in the automotive industry. And that was also my luck, since I just wanted to prove myself as a competent professional.

Support

My success was only possible because the people that hired me and my superiors at that time identified the potential I had and trusted in me. Believe it or not, they were all male and I thank them for all the support. Of course not everything was a “ bed  of roses” since I can recall some differences in treatment between me and my male colleagues during the years working there. That is when we have the opportunity to learn and to change things, to show them we are competent,  capable,  intelligent and not rivals, because, in the end, everyone wants the job to be well done.

More challenges!

After over a decade working in that same company, I decided to embrace another challenge: an international MBA in a foreign country. I came to Italy, another continent  to develop my skills further,  in a more diversified environment. As any professional, male or female, I have ambitions and I am always looking for ways of enhancing myself. Who knows what lies around the corner

by Maria Raquel Di Ciero Fernandes

Maria Raquel Di Ciero Fernandes is an Electronics Engineer with an MBA degree. With a strong knowledge of talent management acquired in the automotive industry, she will now face the challenge of an international career in the packaging industry.

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