From taxi driver to blacksmith
4 women entrepreneurs who broke gender stereotypes in the workplace
What did you want to become when you were growing up? A firefighter? A pilot? Or a scientist? If you were a girl, chances are these jobs didn’t even come to mind.
Recent data published by ILOSTAT, the International Labor Organization, shows that gender stereotypes in the workplace are still as evident as ever. The association found out that internationally “typical female jobs”, such as personal or health care professions, cleaning jobs or teaching positions are still overrepresented by women – a trend that doesn’t seem to change anywhere near as quickly as one might expect.
To celebrate International Women’s Month we’re putting the spotlight on 4 amazing women entrepreneurs and SumUp merchants who have defied all gender clichés when choosing their professions. Lorena, Daniela, Charly and Francesca told us how they came to work in a typical male-dominated field, how they started their own businesses and how digital tools helped them to do so.
Lorena d'Agostino: One of Italy’s first female taxi drivers
As one of the first women to drive a taxi in Italy, Lorena d'Agostino started her own taxi company in Milan in 1990, fuelled by her love for driving. The freedom of being able to work independently, to experience the vibrant city and to meet new people every day, is what Lorena loves most about her job – in an industry that has always been very male-dominated.
"Thirty years ago, a female taxi driver was considered an alien.” she recalls. “Many people refused to get into my car when they realised I was a woman. These days, this luckily rarely ever happens."
Along with the increasing female representation in the taxi industry, the tools used by those in the profession are also evolving. A trend that Lorena welcomes equally as much.
That’s why she started using the Italian taxi app Wetaxi, Italy’s response to other international taxi apps such as Uber or FREE NOW. On top of that, she’s offering her customers the ability to pay cashless with her SumUp Air card reader. “In fact," says Lorena, "particularly the moment of payment needs to happen quickly.”
“Fortunately, almost all my clients pay by card and lately more and more people are using contactless payment – paying with their phone or smartwatch. SumUp's mobile card reader makes it possible to accept digital payments in a smart way, speeding up the process and simplifying my work".
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Daniela Diletti: A revolutionary shoe designer
Reinventing footwear and moving it away from old norms: That is the mission of Daniela Diletti, an entrepreneur from the Marche region of Italy, who founded her footwear company back in 2012. Following her family’s shoe making tradition, she opened her first store in Turin and soon expanded into the world of e-commerce.
Her mission is simple yet brilliant: She pushes the boundaries of traditional women’s shoe design by removing existing, unhealthy standards.
"Shoe design and production is still a male domain.” explains Daniela. “That’s why shoes have always been designed to adhere to male aesthetics. Women’s shoes have purposely been made to make feet appear smaller than they are. We have therefore been conditioned to think that wearing shoes is always a bit painful. That’s why so many women suffer from foot deformities.”
Daniela therefore places the attention to women’s needs at the core of her business’ mission. "I've always tried to better understand and solve women's issues. That's why, before selling a pair of shoes to a customer, I never ask about the shoe size. Instead, I measure the foot size and check for obvious podiatric problems. It’s very important to me to get to know my customers first. I also use digital tools to involve my customers in the shoe production process and to provide detailed assistance during all phases of the purchase.”
Her advice for other women entrepreneurs? “Always believe in your project”, despite the prejudices against women in business and take advantage of digital tools such as SumUp card readers to accept all forms of payment quickly and easily.
Charly Machin: An entrepreneur who founded a female-first home improvements business
DIY is just for men? Definitely not. A notion that Charly couldn't agree with more. When she was fired from her previous job, she decided to found Driller Queens, a network of English-speaking craftspeople in Berlin that is “shining a light on women, trans, and non-binary people.” Anybody needing a wall painted, a light fitted or a wall taken down can hire a Driller Queen and “feel truly heard” and comfortable throughout the experience.
As Charly puts it:
“One of the strengths of our team is precisely that of knowing how to listen. For many, the idea of inviting a handyman into their home is an uncomfortable one.”
She adds that men are also put under a lot of unnecessary pressure to carry out home improvement jobs. “They are the ones who feel the social pressure to know how to do this type of thing. As in ‘You’re a man, you must know how to do this!’. But if no one in your family teaches you, you shouldn't have to know how to do it just because you are a man".
Her mission is to remove gender stereotypes and to offer her customers a convenient and carefree service. That’s why she also decided to use SumUp card readers: "We work by the hour so we are never sure how much the work will cost and customers don't always have the right cash."
Francesca Frau: A master blacksmith from Sardinia
The young artisan blacksmith and women entrepreneur Francesca Frau, took over her family's blacksmithing business in the early 2000s out of passion for the trade. She specialises in forging interior and exterior furnishings and iron sculptures for private homes, as well as hotels, B&Bs and retailers.
Francesca is a real expert at her trade, which she adds, “has always been seen as a purely male profession.” She regularly participates in arts and crafts events across the island, that have led Francesca to collaborate with several master craftsmen – and of course craftswomen.
“Twenty years ago, people were finding it hard to imagine that a girl could do this job. All I could do is invite the public to visit the workshop and to observe me while I was working. Today, with the internet and social media, everything is much easier. People are less sceptical, as they see women in ‘male professions’ all the time and this breaks down stereotypes." Francesca notes.
A positive development – not just for her – but also for the trade itself: "I believe that the feminine touch and taste can give an added value to this art, as to many others, and I try to spread this message on my social channels, where I receive a lot of encouragement from both women and men."
We at SumUp are proud to support such strong women in doing what they love. Happy Women's Month to you all.
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