Erika Lobato, Jakelyne Monzón, Rosa Hernández, and Jennifer González gave interviews to reporter Húber Rosales, of the digital media elsalvador.com, where they told their individual stories about how they became lathe mechanics and milling machines through the study programs of the organization Jesuit Fe y Alegría.
Women continue to gain spaces in the professional field; more and more are doing essential jobs in traditionally masculine environments. Such is the case of four mechanics of the company SM Attachment, SA in El Salvador, which stand out in the execution of the milling machine and the lathe, developing metal devices that are essential in the garment industry.
Salvadoran mechanics Erika Lobato explains that a friend motivated her to perform all the steps of the admission process for the Fe y Alegría study programs. Once admitted, he was interested in the process of making parts, materials, and machines that are used to perform these jobs. Currently, he is part of a select team at SM Attachment SA, developing accessories for companies that produce clothing.
Lobato says that in his work it is necessary much more than the physical force associated with the masculine, it is also essential to have knowledge in mathematics and have a great ability to concentrate on avoiding mistakes, primarily when you work with the best milling machines of the moment since they demand a lot of attention. He also states that it is one of the newest in the company and has been received perfectly by his fellow men.
For his part, Jakelyne Monzón says that he always had an inclination towards mechanics, but his parents did not allow him to study the race because they thought it was only for men, so he graduated from a Bachelor Degree with an emphasis in accounting. However, he never exercised this profession since I was excited to learn how to make appropriate parts that work correctly. Currently, this professional build 5 to 10 pieces a day in the same company.
Monzón has three years in the company and is satisfied with his work, since he is able to turn a piece of metal into a useful element, as a complement to other parts in the garment industry. It is one of the most experienced of the team, and its work is respected in the same way as that of men.
The case of Rosa Hernández is similar to that of Jakelyne since her relatives thought that mechanics was an exclusively male profession, to the point that they told her that she was going to waste time doing those studies. But the best lesson he could give them was to present a piece made with their own hands since from there he obtained the respect of his relatives. In the company, he makes all kinds of elements, including engine parts, receiving congratulations from his teammates.
Like her colleagues, Jennifer González worked at SM Attachment SA and studied the technical career of mechanics around and milling in Fe y Alegría. She assures that she is proud to have chosen this profession and, therefore, has put all her effort, creativity, knowledge, and practice so that her work is valued alongside that of men without any distinction.
Why didn’t women work in lathe and milling mechanics?
Formerly, the mechanics around and milling machine was a profession that demanded a lot of effort on the part of the worker, this is the main reason why it was performed only by men, however, in our days there are machines that allow doing the work with less wear physical, so there is no excuse for women not being allowed to perform this activity.
However, it is also true that there are still cases where human resources managers are reluctant to hire female staff since there is a certain distrust of professionalism only because of gender. This is a complex issue with many edges but based on thoughts that are currently in extinction.
It is no secret to anyone that specific structural gender barriers persist that put women at a disadvantage, especially in such contexts where men have accumulated power over centuries of tradition. But this is precisely what makes women strengthen their abilities and strategies, to gain prominence individually and collectively, producing what experts call female empowerment.
The good news is that more and more women manage to hold positions in industrial mechanics companies. Although they tend to be a minority in mostly male spaces, they have demonstrated with their results that they have the same physical and intellectual abilities to do the job, this makes these companies open opportunities for gender, in this way it will not be so difficult for the next generations of women who wish to engage in the activity.
The work of Fe y Alegría for the benefit of women’s rights
The Fey Alegría organization has benefited more than 25,000 people in El Salvador for 50 years. As a basic popular education movement, one of its objectives is to seek equality in access to development opportunities. Therefore, it has created awareness spaces to make women’s rights visible in their educational centers.
The proposal of Fe y Alegría in situations of gender injustice is to transform the reality of women with education. The case of these four Salvadorans is repeated in other parts of the world, thanks to the fact that this foundation has spread throughout South America, Central America, Africa, and Europe.
Fey Alegría was founded in Venezuela in 1955, and its work is aimed at the poorest and most excluded sectors, with the aim of promoting personal development and social inclusion. Currently, it has its headquarters in Bogotá, Colombia, but has a presence in more than 20 countries, including Spain and Italy.