Brazil breaks the gender bias in automotive repair

Women in Brazil are breaking into the automotive repair market and transforming their lives after completing a unique vocational course.

Fourteen Brazilian women who make up the first graduating class of the “Mulheres na Cor” (Women in Color) vocational course are now empowered to switch careers, embrace new opportunities, provide for their families and rebuild their lives.

After completing a rigorous (and fun) 300 hours of theory and practice in automotive preparation, refinish, polishing, colorimetry and tools, all participants are now fully qualified for work in vehicle refinishing.

Transforming lives

The program has made it possible for women facing a difficult labor market to find a path to decent work – women like Maria da Guia Silva and Silvia Ferreira de Sousa.


Maria is seeking better job opportunities because she’s raising three grandchildren: “I worked as a cleaner for 23 years, which allowed me to build my livelihood. I was surprised when I heard about the course because I thought automotive painting was just for men. But I've done a lot of polishing of whirlpools and bathtubs – now I know how to do it for cars too. I'm super proud of finishing the course.”


Silvia, who previously worked in the production of metals, sees the course as a chance to change careers: "I smelled a wonderful opportunity. There are few women in this market, but I see an important segment with a wide range of possibilities. It’s a fascinating course that shows us how it’s done and teaches us all the tricks. Now I want to gain more experience and put all that knowledge into action.”

Breaking the bias

International Women’s Day and its 2022 theme: “Break the bias” was the perfect opportunity to celebrate the first milestone for the women of Mulheres na Cor.

The day, globally observed on March 8, is a call to imagine a gender equal world – and to take action to realize that vision. One of its missions is to forge women’s empowerment worldwide. Colleagues in Brazil saw one such opportunity to empower women to pursue careers in the painting segment.

"We really challenged ourselves to find ways to include more women in our sales teams,” says Ozinei Manzano, AkzoNobel Sales Manager in Brazil. “We took inspiration from a previous project in the interior of São Paulo, in which cleaning assistants became colorists and highly skilled professionals. We built on the idea with our automotive refinish team, adding mentoring and partnerships to help with job placements afterwards.”

It takes a village

Several important partnerships helped us pull off the improved Women in Color course. SENAI vocational school provided all the training courses and Norton, a supplier of abrasives, joined us from the very beginning and continues to help us place graduates within the market. Several non-governmental organizations, SOS Children’s Villages and Hamburgada do Bem helped us find our participants. We also were grateful to have the support of many others including Bela Tintas, Instituto Localiza, Liberty Seguros, Sigma Transportes and Sindirepa (Union of Vehicle Repair and Accessories Industry of the State of São Paulo). All together, we were able to design an uplifting and well-rounded experience that doesn’t just end with graduation.

Mulheres na Cor

Their story has just begun

The graduation ceremony is planned for April, but that’s not all Maria, Silvia and the other twelve participants have to look forward to! Already on the hunt for jobs in the field, they also made an exhilarating pitstop on a racetrack. Stay tuned for more updates and join us in cheering on these amazing women!

Fetching the data, please wait...