Cristina Garmendia, Sarah Harmon, María Teresa Fernández de la Vega and Gloria Lomana
On 22 October 2018, a dialogue on female leadership in Spain took place at the Rafael del Pino Foundation, on the occasion of the presentation of the latest work by journalist Gloria Lomana "El fin del Miedo", published by La Esfera de los libros, with the participation, in addition to the author, of María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, president of the Women for Africa Foundation; Cristina Garmendia, president of the Cotec Foundation for Innovation, and Sarah Harmon, general manager of LinkedIn Spain and Portugal. During her speech, Gloria Lomana commented that women have fought hard, for a long time, to explain something very basic: that what they are asking for is equal opportunities to be able to demonstrate their talents and abilities. And although much progress has been made since her grandmother's time, there is still a long way to go. That is why she calls for the cooperation and understanding of men. Referring to the women she had spoken to in order to write the book, Lomana pointed out three elements common to all, or almost all, of them. The first is that almost all of them recognised that they had been afraid of failure, of raising their voices in a meeting where men were in the majority, of motherhood penalising them in their professional careers, or of feeling guilty for not being good mothers. They had even been afraid to be afraid. These are insecurities that start at the age of seven with the distribution of roles between men and women. The second common point lies in the difficulties they said they had in reconciling their professional and working lives. This is something that has yet to be resolved. And the third point is that they all admitted that they are turning around stereotypes about women inherited from the past. To defend the importance of equal opportunities for women, Lomana cited studies that show that companies gain more when they pool talent and incorporate women. Despite this, there is a lack of women in management positions. She also cited another study which indicates that, if there were real equality for women throughout the world, global GDP would be 26% higher. And she also indicated that all international organisations agree in highlighting the mediating capacity of women. The question that was then asked is, if women have these qualities and can contribute so much, what is happening that society does not realise this? María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, for her part, said that women have these qualities, but that it is very difficult to change things, which is why the work of journalists, who put the spotlight on the problem, is very important. In her opinion, there are many things that need to be changed because the historical sexist discourse, which began with the Greek philosophers and continues today, was built on the basis that men as brilliant as Aristotle or Plato dedicated all their intelligence to highlighting the inferiority of women. Fortunately, women came along to say and do the opposite. In order to change the situation and achieve equality, women must be given political power. A feminisation of society and power is necessary because women want to change things through voice and words, in order to achieve a model based on different values from those of the past. Feminists have, in fact, changed the world by speaking out, understanding and comprehending the problems of others. This feminist revolution, which began with #MeToo, has come at a time when equality is regressing and has stopped this trend in its tracks. Institutional machismo, she said, has seen the wolf's ears and has taken off its mask. Now that it has done so, we can see how it has disrespected women. In her opinion, we are facing a very important situation, which began with the march on Washington last year. What we are saying is stop the lack of respect, stop a model that is breaking down and that is incapable of responding to the problems that human beings have. In doing so, women are defending not only their rights, but also human rights, democracy and a model of coexistence. Cristina Garmendia stressed that equality is an unstoppable social movement because today it is impossible to come up with something that does not have a certain gender balance because society no longer accepts it. Referring to the knowledge society, she wondered that, if it is based on talent, if so much is invested in education to generate it, why is female talent not being harnessed? He also referred to the gender gap that exists between different careers: 38% of boys choose science, technology and mathematics, compared to 15% of girls. And since the 1980s, the number of female computer scientists has halved. This, she believes, has to do with family roles. Women, she went on to say, are more concerned than men about the impact technology will have on society and on equality. Men feel more able to cope with it than women. With regard to women managers and entrepreneurs, there are some, but you have to look for them, because they do not appear at the top of the search engines. Sara Harmon focused on how women can draw attention to themselves and be taken into consideration. Feminism has responded and has been criticised, but when it is criticised, you have to bear in mind that it is not perfect because it is a movement made up of human beings. Still, feminism is challenging the status quo because women have never been part of it; it is breaking the social and cultural structure. Feminism has helped women believe in their voice, that their voice is important in a world where there are many voices. Listening to these women's voices is important because they tell individual stories and experiences that help to put an end to fear, because they are stories and situations that other women can identify with. In this sense, the internet has proven to be a vital tool to empower those who previously had no voice. It is important because every story is personal and emotional. That is why words matter, because they have experiences to tell.
The Rafael del Pino Foundation is not responsible for the comments, opinions or statements made by the people who participate in its activities and which are expressed as a result of their inalienable right to freedom of expression and under their sole responsibility. The contents included in the summary of this conference, written for the Rafael del Pino Foundation by Professor Emilio González, are the result of the debates held at the meeting held for this purpose at the Foundation and are the responsibility of the authors.
The Rafael del Pino Foundation is not responsible for any comments, opinions or statements made by third parties. In this respect, the FRP is not obliged to monitor the views expressed by such third parties who participate in its activities and which are expressed as a result of their inalienable right to freedom of expression and under their own responsibility. The contents included in the summary of this conference, written for the Rafael del Pino Foundation by Professor Emilio J. González, are the result of the discussions that took place during the conference organised for this purpose at the Foundation and are the sole responsibility of its authors.