Pilipinas Shell’s Women Drive the Future campaign seeks to redefine what it means to be a “woman driver” this year by shining the spotlight on the achievements of successful Filipinas who drive progress. This is a step beyond last year’s thrust, which sought to challenge the stigma surrounding women motorists, in order to celebrate the key role that women play in shaping the future.

The company released a video last Sunday inspired by an ensemble of stories about women who have risen above expectations to highlight that #BabaePala are key success drivers. A captain for commercial flights, an eSports champion, and a Shell station mechanic all defied negative stereotypes and celebrate women who drive future progress.

Casting a Spell on Philippine eSports

Two-time champion of the World Showdown of eSport’s (WSOE) Hearthstone category Jia Dee is at the forefront of a changing eSports landscape that is beginning to see a lot more women involved.

Hearthstone is an extensive digital card game that tests players’ ability to formulate complex strategies and responsive tactics.

The lone female member of Team Sibol, the Philippines’ 27-man squad during the Southeast Asian Games eSports debut, reminisced on some of the biggest hurdles to getting her career as a professional eSports athlete off the ground.

“I would say avoiding frustration, because it really takes a certain amount of mental fortitude,” said Dee when asked about the challenges she faces as a gamer.

Dee also spends much time as the only professional Filipina caster, or commentator, for Hearthstone games.

“At first I was really self-conscious about it, people were saying that I was a token woman caster, that I was just there to fill a quota, they even discussed my weight,” she said as she recounted an experience she once had while casting. “As I expanded my resume, I feel like most people in the community started to respect me as a caster since I had the credentials.”

As one of the few female eSports athletes, she is aware that she acts as a role model for the growing number of girls interested in gaming.

“Every female caster I know, especially on stream, experience some kind of discrimination,” said Dee. “It can be rough, but just focus on playing well and what you know is your skill.”

For This Woman’s Passion, the Sky is the Limit

For some, it may have once been difficult to imagine the tailor-fit pilot’s uniform and aviator sunglasses donned by a woman, but that has long since changed, with some even landing the coveted captain’s seat in the cockpit.

Among the pioneers of equal representation in Philippine aviation is Captain Brooke Castillo, lauded as the first Filipina to captain a commercial jet aircraft back in 1996. According to her, she was the only female in her batch at flight school who finished the course and one of only four women in the whole industry at the time.

“The idea of having women was becoming less and less welcome to the airlines,” said Castillo. “They were reluctant because they get married, they get pregnant, and then they’re gone.”

Along with the other female pilots, Castillo was adamant about challenging these preconceptions through hard work.

“I wouldn’t say I was better than men, but I made sure I didn’t fail anything,” said Castillo. “The female pilots I was with did the same thing, because we didn’t want to create the idea that it’s going to be a liability when you have female pilots.”

For Castillo, her passion has always been in the sky, even turning down a position in management so she could continue to fly and teach in flight school. She’s proud of the role she plays in inspiring more women to pursue a career in aviation.

“I’m glad that I’m representing women who experienced that gender barrier, because I know it will have an effect on future generations,” said Dee. “I hope I inspire more women to be like us, because the men in the industry are starting to realize that we are the same in terms of ability.”

Castillo attributes the drive to pursue her passion to the women in her family, stating that she was inspired by their strength to take the lead.

“My mom was a great leader, and if we have more parents who will teach their kids that it’s fine to excel and that it’s fine not to be mediocre, then I’m confident that we will see more women becoming leaders,” said Castillo. “If you have a leader’s heart, then go out there and lead.”

Getting Other Women in Gear

While women are slowly but certainly becoming more prominent in eSports and aviation, it is still quite unheard of to see female mechanics toiling away at what is often considered an exclusive realm for men: auto-repair.

Shell’s very own Jerah Nae Malolos once operated a small servicing business with her husband where she familiarized herself with the tools of the trade, oil-changing procedures, and the complex mechanisms that make up a motor vehicle.

The nearby Shell gas station had originally contracted her and her husband to service cars, and eventually they were both offered to work at the site to offer car maintenance services in 2017.

Malolos is no stranger to the notion that the mechanic profession is not for women, but today she feels that this is no longer the case.

“Kasi ako mismo, naranasan ko din yun, yung parang nakantsawan din, kasi sayang naman daw yung four-year course mo kung magiging mekaniko ka lang at saka trabahong pang lalaki,” said Malolos. “Pero habang lumilipas yung panahon, may paliwanag sa kanila, at saka yung kaalagahan din, as long as nagtratrabaho ka nang marangal, walang problema dun, dapat ikarangal mo din yun”

“Tayong mga babae, katulad rin tayo ng mga lalaki--meron silang mga kamay, meron silang mga isip, mata, na magagamit para magawa yung isang bagay,” she said. “Hindi tayo naiiba sa bagay na yun.”

Now, Malolos is something of a local celebrity, with people even coming specifically to the station to see the only female mechanic in the area. According to her, women come to her to ask about becoming a mechanic and she is glad to impart whatever knowledge she can teach.

“Kung may presensya ng isang babae nagtuturo sa kanila, nakakadagdag ng kumpiyansa sa sarili nila,” she said. “Hindi yan mananatili na hanggang isip lang, kailangan na ito lakipan ng gawa para mapatunayan din at makita nila na kaya din pala ng isang babae ang gawain ng isang lalaki.”

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