Luisa Fernanda Valderrama Brings Together Women in a Very Masculine Sector
The exaltation of the women whom she has represented for decades in a scenario that today continues to be dominated by men, the automotive industry.
The Woman Post | María Consuelo Caicedo
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She is the president and founder of the American Organization of Women Automotive Maintenance Leaders (WAM21). To get there, she has traveled a long road of more than 40 years, which has taken her to train academically and professionally. Her life has not put anything on a silver platter and that is why she speaks with the volume that the voice of long experience gives her that allows her to claim her place as an expert in this field.
Many things worry her and many others that she claims. She does not believe in supposedly leading women who have been placed in executive positions by men because, from her perspective, "a woman in that situation has no decision-making power, she only does what the men behind her tell her”. She believes that women should earn their space without owing anything to anyone, only then will they be autonomous.
Criticism and fights
Luisa Fernanda knows the automotive industry, a scenario that she has covered conquering the first steps from apprenticeship to high-profile executive positions. For this reason, she expresses herself properly when saying that "there is no one more macho than a woman in an essentially masculinized scenario like this: Women must support each other and exercise our leadership as women, not as men”.
The recognized specialist in automotive maintenance in Colombia and many Latin countries also contributes her opinion regarding gender equality in the American continent: “I am sorry to say it, but gender equality has become a show to hold shows and events and earn money, in reality, there is not the will of many women who organize them to selflessly help others”.
Her struggle to give the automotive industry a female face does not stop: “We have to overcome the myth that associates this job with the mechanic man on the corner of the garage that fixes cars in the neighborhood. Our work is transversal because human beings depend on vehicles on earth and in space, from rockets, drones, boats, trucks, and cars. Any industry depends on transportation to do its job”.
The automotive industry has to do with agriculture, the environment, the economies of countries, and the military, among other things: “There are high rates of corruption in this industry, but the hope I have is that, to the extent that more and more women contribute their efforts and prepare themselves professionally in this field, that corruption will decrease if we enter it with the banner of integrity”.
Women passionate about the automotive industry
Valderrama calls for women to join the automotive industry from operational and technical positions and hopes that they will open up space in management positions: “I am the only woman who has held executive positions in large transportation companies. I can't deny that it's a struggle, but it's not impossible. This is a field of work where a woman speaks and is ignored and if we have good ideas they will probably be stolen, I know from experience”.
For Luisa Fernanda, the only way to increase the presence of women in the automotive industry and to be able to compete on an equal footing is training: "Young generations must become aware and from WAM21 we are working in colleges and universities that have academic programs linked to the topic to foster interest. Passions have no gender, only intelligent beings are needed, if they have a skirt or pants it doesn't matter”.
You can also visit, in Colombia, the Center for Transport Technologies of SENA, which offers a wide variety of technical careers oriented to the automotive industry. field. : "In Chile and Mexico there are many institutes and universities that offer related careers but women must know that the automotive industry also needs psychologists, environmentalists, logistics specialists, engineers, and other professions”.
Among so many actions to highlight, it is this drive to create a community of women who support each other and inspire others to belong to this sector. It is pertinent to overthrow the myth that girls play with dolls and boys with cars: "A woman does not stop being feminine because she directs her professional practice to the automotive industry," explains Luisa Fernanda. From WAM21 we are working in university institutions in Paraguay and Mexico so that more women get to know the industry and I have seen that when they do, they become passionate. In addition, the labor field is wide”.
Valderrama has worked with automobiles all her life, as a mother who is the head of the household, she supported her house, she is a great leader and today she has two professional children with resources derived from her profession: “If I could, any woman can, perseverance and discipline bear fruit. Women are neither better nor worse than men, but we are unique and we do not need to cover female quotas in executive positions in large companies or exercise leadership with a masculine mentality. We can achieve what we want on our merit if we have a strong attitude, show capacity, do the right thing and not the right thing to push back the corruption figures in the world”.