By Federica Bocco
John Cabot’s Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) hosted a discussion about the gender gap in the workplace on February 24 in collaboration with the Business Club and Student Government.
Kiriko Mechanicus, President of John Cabot University’s WLI, opened the discussion “Far From Equal” and talked about how important it is to de ne ourselves as feminists. She said, “People are afraid to admit that they are feminists, or some don’t know what it means. Some think that battles have already been fought by our mothers and grandmothers and there’s no need to identify as a feminist,” she said.
The gender gap in Italy is tangible. Over 30% of women who work are in part-time positions because they feel they have more domestic responsibilities. In Italy, until 2007, many women had to sign the dimissioni in bianco, meaning the companies could re a woman once she became pregnant.
Student Government Vice-President, Katie Kehoe, was the brilliant moderator during the discussion with the three speakers. The rst question Kehoe asked was for the three panelists to share a mistake that they had made in the past when it came to equality in the workplace, and what they would do di erently.
Nicoletta Dentico, a board member of Banca Popolare Etica, talked about her previous job as director of Doctors Without Borders, while also trying to mother three children. At one point, she realized her babysitter knew more about her children than she did. She gave up her “perfectly tailored” job for her family, but regrets not trying to nd a compromise.
“Men are usually more competitive [in the workplace],” said Valerie Baxter, president of the Professional Women’s Association in Rome. She went on to explain that, “Women can be more insecure, and don’t apply for certain positions because they feel they are not good enough. There are so many women who need help, but don’t accept it.”
Martina Romanelli, representative of the Young Women’s Network, talked about the need for an open-minded approach to the workplace. “Equality should embrace and value all kinds of diversity, and take the strength of each of them,” she said. One woman in a male-dominated working space will most likely adapt and become “like a man” but it takes many women to change the culture.
“As a Catholic, I also ght my battles in church every week,” Nicoletta Dentico said. “If we can still be Catholic and feminist, I think we have learned some resistance by now.”
Valerie Baxter reminds the audience that we should not take our freedom for granted. She tries to encourage people by telling them that, “the road is yours, and we are here to help you get there.”