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Latina breaking molds as San Diego auto dealership general manager

You might expect some fields, like the automotive industry, to be heavily-male dominated; one San Diego dealership shows that is changing.

SAN DIEGO — On average, women make up about half of the U.S. workforce, and that number is even less when broken down into women of color, and by industry.

You might expect some fields, like the automotive industry, to be heavily-male dominated; one San Diego dealership shows that is changing.

When you walk in to Hello Mazda San Diego in Kearny Mesa, Idaliz Maldonado might very well be the one greeting you at the front desk, tinkering with the printer, and signing off on your paperwork as the dealership's general manager.

"There's days people come in and they look at me and they say, 'oh, can I talk to the GM," Maldonado said as she walked the lines of new cars on the lot. "Then I say, 'oh, how can I help you," and they're like, 'oh, you're the GM?" She continued. "And I'm like, 'yeah!'"

She's used to surprising people, given she's a rare breed of boss in the industry. According to some of the latest U.S. Bureau of Statistics Data, women make up 47% of the workforce; women of color, including Latinas,  make up 18%; and in the automotive industry, just 6%.

"I honestly feel like it has to do with fear," Maldonado said. "We really fear what they're gonna think, and what's gonna happen, and they'll never listen to me."

But that's exactly the glass that needs to be broken, and Madonado says her experience in the industry has shown her it can be done, and it might be easier than you think.

"They respect... she's a woman, she's Latina... she's not afraid to speak up and just tell you her opinion," she said. "And I think that's what makes you make it."

Hello Auto seems to agree; Maldonado says her counterpart in Temecula is also a Latina.

Despite progress, data shows Latinas still lag in several categories within the workforce, like making 13 percent less money than Latino men in the same jobs.

Still, Maldonado believes changing that, and rising to other new highs, are possible when you put your mind to it.

"I always say go for your dream," she told us. "It's never impossible. If you put your mind to it, it definitely will happen."

WATCH RELATED: Promotoras going door-to-door in Latino neighborhoods amid COVID surge (Jan. 2022).

   

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