It was with great pleasure that I was able to interview a young Latina lady with a CDL License. Most of the time in life we tend to showcase women in the professional office fields and forget that some women were born to do these so-called “manly” jobs. I will share her experiences and some of mine.
Angela Maria Gonzalez Colon originally from Lajas, Puerto Rico wanted to become a tractor-trailer driver because it’s something her daddy did when she was growing up, it brought her somewhat nostalgic feelings. But she also saw it as an opportunity to grow here in the states, as she moved from the island back in 2015.
People see this field more like a masculine one, but she agrees with me that you don’t have to lose your femineity just because you have a job like this one. Besides there are other jobs within this field like being an instructor and something much needed in Reading, Pennsylvania a bilingual instructor. And that is what she is currently doing for RCY CDL Training. She also is a nail technician known as “nail girl” part-time & has been for about 17 years. A woman can do both and why not!
During the day she mostly teaches men who enroll in the CDL classes. She teaches them to do the logbooks, how to inspect the tractor-trailer, air brakes, parking, and believe it or not some come in not even know how to drive a stick shift and she teaches them as well. This isn’t always an easy job as there still exist lots of machismo and stereotypes, especially when a woman is teaching men or giving them orders. Especially because lots of men feel they know more than women on these topics. I questioned her if she ever gets men trying to disrespect her authority or just making comments or jokes, she said: “yes I still get a few of those but I remain serious and demonstrate that I know how to do my job and they need to listen up or they will fail the class.” Plus, RCY CDL Training doesn’t condone or tolerate discrimination in the workplace.
Now let me share with you my experiences. I’m 48 years old therefore when I was growing up there was the pink and the blue, the toy trucks, and the dolls to separate us. Even going to a birthday party, they reminded you that boys did boy things and girls did girl things. I knew I wasn’t a tomboy as I enjoyed all the girly things, but I knew I was somewhat different. I simply just didn’t like being told how and when to choose something that was for me, especially solely based on color. Until this day, I totally dislike it and will not tolerate it.
I’m also proud that I was able to pass this on to my daughter as she is very self-aware and likes making her own choices. I remember taking her to a birthday party and she was handed a pink bag, and she immediately looked at me and said, “mom, why can’t I have a blue one?” Then she followed it by: “they didn’t even ask me”. That was one proud moment for me as she was just 4 or 5 years old. I just knew then and there that my daughter was going to be a tough gal, one that could speak up for herself and was going to express her opinions regardless.
I also remember at some point when she was about 9 and my son was 6 years old and I told him he needed to learn to do house chores like mopping & doing the dishes so that one day when he married, he could help his wife with her chores and my daughter said: “Mom I can’t believe you are saying that to him”. When I asked her why, she said: “first of all those are not only woman chores he must help around with house chores because that is his home as well, and he needs to do half the chores. Secondly, don’t assume he will have a wife as he may choose to marry a man and not a woman and you may be traumatizing him.” My jaw dropped and I was in shock for a few days and yet again my daughter taught me a lesson about how brainwashed we women sometimes are into thinking that we are the ones that need to cook, wash clothes, wash the dishes, etc. Now I have a clear understanding that we must practice what we preach, and we must preach to these girls & women that they can do anything they want in this world and that they have choices, and it doesn’t always need to include the kitchen and house chores.
I’m writing this article on the night that Kamala Harris makes history as the first woman and woman of color to be Vice President and it makes me so proud. Also, coincidentally 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, allowing women the constitutional right to vote. While I am proud and happy to celebrate it, I also hope there comes a time when we don’t need to extra celebrate or take notice of things like this because it should be the norm. We need to work harder so that the focus isn’t about their sex, race, height, rich or poor but rather that they are the right person for the job. I think with time this will happen. Ladies live life on your own terms.
This article was originally written for the W2W magazine and will be placed in their April 2021 edition. Visit www.berkswomen2women.com/ to see the full magazine about women in leadership.
Rosa Julia Parra
CEO, Palo Magazine