Latina breaks molds as general manager of San Diego auto dealership

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

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

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

When you walk into Hello Mazda San Diego in Kearny Mesa, Idaliz Maldonado could very well be the one greeting you at the front desk, tinkering with the printer, and signing your paperwork as the general manager of the dealership.

“There are days when people come in and look at me and say, ‘Oh, can I speak to the general manager,'” Maldonado said as she scanned the lines of new cars on the lot. ‘oh, how can I help you’, and they say, ‘oh, are you the GM?’ She continued. “And I’m like, ‘yeah!'”

She’s used to surprising people, given that she’s a rare breed of boss in the industry. According to some of the latest data from the US Bureau of Statistics, women make up 47% of the workforce; women of color, including Latinas, make up 18%; and in the automobile industry, only 6%.

“Honestly, I feel like it has to do with fear, Maldonado said. “We’re really scared of what they’re going to think and what’s going to happen, and they’ll never listen to me.”

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

“They respect…she’s a woman, she’s a Latina…she’s not afraid to speak up and just tell you her opinion,” she said. “And I think that’s what makes you successful.”

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

Despite the progress, data shows that Latinas still lag behind in several categories within the workforce, such as earning 13% less money than Latino men in the same jobs.

Still, Maldonado believes changing that and reaching new heights is 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 will definitely happen.”

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

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