Girls in Their Industries: Girls Entrepreneurs Overcome Boundaries and Reach Male Markets
In pursuit of gender equality, they lead women’s companies and initiatives in predominantly male-dominated sectors; know stories
Gender equality in the labor market is an increasingly discussed topic from the point of view of remuneration and respect for diversity, but women still continue to fight for their space in professions that are historically dominated by men. It was this feeling of always feeling like an exception on construction sites across the country that led the electrical engineer Camila Maciel Andrade to want to share her story and show that there is room for other women “in boots” in professional everyday life.
“I chose electrical engineering while still in high school because I liked exact sciences, I always had my mother’s support, but with my father it was more difficult. He wanted me to study medicine, because engineering was not a very feminine course”, remembers Camila. A resident of the State of Bahia, she passed the entrance exam in Campina Grande, in Paraíba, and went to live abroad. “In college there were no trials. Most of the students were from abroad, from other cities and states, so the students welcomed each other, men and women, because everyone knew how difficult it was to move on to the next semester”, she says.
Experience in the job market, specifically in the energy sector in large projects, and the desire to encourage other women to follow a professional path free of prejudice was what led her to create the project “Elas de Botina” (elasdebotina.com. br), a welcoming movement for women working in areas that are still seen as masculine.
The project started on Instagram, where Camila created a support network for women engineers and related areas to tell their stories, difficulties and dreams, with the purpose of welcoming themselves and also encouraging other women. “I want to help them follow their dreams and not give up on their careers, however difficult and lonely it is to be in some professions for the female audience”, she says.
On another front, Camila used her storytelling talent to write the books of a children’s trilogy called “Carol’s discoveries in the world of engineering”, which brings the story of a girl who is in doubt about what she wants to be when she grows up. . In the story, she asks her mother and her friends’ mothers for help to discover the different engineering careers and understand that she can be whatever she wants.
The other two books follow her growth and the character Carol entering this world that is seen as a world for men only.
In Camila’s opinion, advice for women and girls who want to pursue their careers in areas that are not seen as feminine or that society sees as only for men is to persist in their dreams. “Be strong, it will be difficult, but it will be worth it if you really want to be in the chosen area and segment. You are no less capable for being a woman,” she concludes.
hand in grease
In the entrepreneurship environment, some areas dominated by men are seeing the arrival of more women – and increasingly prepared to assume any role. To bring more technical and management knowledge to women in auto repair shops, Sebrae-SP, together with nine partners in the market, launched the course “Women in Automotive Repair”, an initiative that started at the Sebrae-SP Capital West Regional Office.
In all, 30 entrepreneurs from auto repair shops across the state participated in the course, which was taught online and lasted two months.
The consultant Roberta Sodré, creator and manager of the project, says that the students felt honored and special to have been invited to participate in the course, where they could learn more about how to manage the workshop and also general mechanics techniques. “The students told stories they had already experienced in the work environment as owners and partners in machine shops.
They heard sexist and prejudiced comments from some customers who, at first, doubted their ability to understand the subject. But after getting to know the women’s work, they preferred to be assisted by them”, says the consultant.
One of the entrepreneurs who took the course was Sandra Carvalho, partner-owner of the AK Auto Center repair shop, located in the south zone of São Paulo. She has been working in the field of mechanics for over 20 years, as an administrator and manager of workshops, and owns a workshop with her husband, who is responsible for repairing vehicles. Sandra has taken Sebrae courses since 2014 in the area of management and finance, but claims that she had many benefits after participating in the automotive repair course.
Being a woman and being in a predominantly male industry, Sandra reports having had many obstacles on the way to managing the company and, in the beginning, playing the role of secretary, responsible for the first contact with the client. “Many felt insecure to see a woman answering and writing down the car’s problems”, she recalls.
When they discover that the workshop is run by a woman, customers have varied reactions, says the entrepreneur. “Me and another female employee we hired used to suffer from more distrust. The customers themselves preferred and even asked for a man to handle the matter. But nowadays it doesn’t happen so often, it has decreased a lot. I believe that the change and cultural evolution of society can be related to this, ”she says.
Sandra uses as an example a comparison with other subjects that are considered predominantly masculine. “I have a boy son and I’ve always liked football and superheroes, ‘silly’ subjects of our daily life, but I realize that women still need to prove that they know and dominate these areas, even if they don’t interfere with anything in everyday life. So, unfortunately it is still normal for there to be prejudice when the subject is professional and when a customer entrusts us with their car”, says the entrepreneur.