Karla Fabiola Valdez' eyes sparkle as she talks about her new job. In October, the 30-year-old mother of three became one of the first women to join the assembly line at Ford Motor Co.'s car plant in Hermosillo in northern Mexico. More than 1,000 workers applied for just 24 slots, half of them reserved for women only. After two months of intense training, Valdez now takes home 4,108 pesos a month--around $437 dollars--a princely sum for this Mexican family, which had been living off the meager wages that Valdez' husband, Gabriel, earned as a restaurant worker. "We'll be solid middle class," she says. "We're going to fix up our house, and [we] are dreaming of buying a car."
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