Her height of 1.57 meters was no obstacle for María Suárez to climb the 28-ton header and skillfully maneuver it. She drove six-ton ​​trucks and a crane truck without any problems, showing the knowledge she has acquired since last May when the second class of the Women behind the Wheel program of the Professional Driving School for Transport and Heavy Equipment (Conduespol) started. .

“I feel empowered, great, I know everything is possible, I’ve driven vans, but never trucks,” she said excitedly after getting out of one of the trucks in which she tested with several of her colleagues on the afternoon of Tuesday, September 12. , in Guayaquil. However, Suárez is not an improviser behind the wheel, because before enrolling in the course she already had four years of experience driving a taxi and ten years on school express trains, but now her goal is to finish the course next October and get a license. E professional, which will allow you to drive transport and heavy machinery such as trailers, tipper trucks, tankers, public platforms and mixers.

Women behind the wheel: the first graduates with transport and heavy equipment licenses make their way into companies

The sensation that Suárez felt was already experienced by Daysi Santo, who graduated in the first class of the program at the end of last March. This Conduespol program is promoted by Holcim, Negocios Industriales Real (Nirsa), Cervecería Nacional, Bimbo and Condexpet, a company dedicated to providing logistics services.

Women at the Wheel started in 2022 with the aim of providing women with new opportunities to function in the world of work, with the technical knowledge and skills to adapt to the country’s various manufacturing sectors. The course has a total duration of 320 hours of theoretical teaching in the modality on the line and 80 hours of field practice. This program is aimed at equal opportunities. The first class was completed by 29 women with a type E professional license, which enables them to drive agricultural machinery, heavy machinery, truck equipment and other vehicles.

Next October, 22 women will graduate from Conduespol’s Women behind the Wheel program, which is promoted by several private companies. Photo: Carlos Barros

Andrés Antepara, human resources coordinator at Holcim Ecuador, pointed out that inclusion is a fundamental part of the company and that is why he firmly believes in the commitment to open more and more jobs, not only in administrative or operational areas, but also in the promotion of gender spaces.

Furthermore, he considered that this initiative is an approach for candidates to access new employment opportunities, not only within the company, but also in any sector of the Ecuadorian industry.

90% scholarship for women to obtain a license to drive heavy and extra heavy trucks

Melissa Aguirre, head of corporate affairs at Nirsa, highlighted the joint work of her company with other companies that support the program of approaching Ecuador with equal opportunities and without gender discrimination. “Other companies, like us, are trying to promote the presence of women in these areas where their participation has traditionally been reduced,” added Aguirre. Nirsa pointed out that they have seven female forklift operators in their work team. “They were an example to all who make up the company since their example inspired the courage to break stereotypes,” said the CEO.

On the other hand, Corina Rivers, Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Cervecería Nacional, recognized that the company is traditionally known for its masculinized roles, positions and social constructions. However, he revealed data on how the composition of the company’s associates has evolved: “In 2019, we had 17% women and 83% men, in 2020 it increased by 1% for female associates, and for men it decreased to 82%.” From 2021 to today, we maintain 21% women and 79% men,” Rivers revealed.

He indicated that the company strives to inspire and collaborate with allies from the public, private and social sectors to expand the business culture of diversity, equality and inclusion, and in the same way expand the number of opportunities offered to women in the country.