Women in communication: interview with Paola Mascaro from Avio Aero
Coming of age is certainly an important milestone, both for a person and for a brand and, in this very particular case, for ours.
As the female turns 18, we have decided to start a Women Empowerment project that focuses on women who work in the field of communication.
Paola Mascaro, Communication & Public Affairs Vice President of GE Italy and Avio Aero, answered 5 significant questions for us, explaining the importance of knowing how to use head and heart with the right balance.
1. What is "being a woman" like in the world of work?
In my opinion it is beautiful. Certainly tiring, because if you have the desire and determination to achieve yourself you will also need to prove your worth in a more complex and articulated way. It is certainly truer for my baby boom generation. When I started working, after a brilliant degree, a scholarship and so on, I was almost always the only woman in the rooms. the conditions are different. There were very few women who aspired to follow a path of growth. It is not that there were no women, but they often had very operational roles from which they did not move. The idea of having women managers, or even higher roles, it was very remote. Not that the condition has improved much today. If I think of the roles at the top, we are talking about a female presence of 14% in private companies. We are still very far from the objectives. These numbers are, also for historical reasons, lower in realities where career progression is linked to technical-scientific training. Historically, female engineers were few and still are, so in industrial companies, where that type of training is necessary to reach the top, there is still a lot of effort. But it is also the realities that will mark the pace of change. When we no longer think of certain jobs as male or female jobs, we will have taken a big step. So being a woman in the world of work is beautiful, challenging, and it takes a lot of energy. Each step you take brings it home as if it were a real trophy.
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2. What was "women empowerment" for you at 18?
Nothing, in the sense that the concept did not exist, was born over time. Maybe I heard about empowerment in the mid-90s. Because it was born and developed with the idea that for women it is not just a theme related to work, but a theme of self-realization. Finding one's way, expressing oneself, and making sure that this realization is the expression of oneself as an individual. For my generation, however, it was linked to the idea of succeeding at work. The younger ones think differently: they want everything in life, not just a career. This is because over the years empowerment has been associated with a path of awareness, which over time women have had the need to do for various reasons: 1) not to have gender role models. There were no female leaders: the risk was to emulating a man; 2) inventing a style, which was the most traveled road and the most important challenge.
3. Three words you associate today with "women empowerment"
The first word is self-realization, at 360 °. As I anticipated, we are talking about self-realization not linked only to the world of work or to reaching the top. But it does mean finding your own way of expressing yourself as an individual, regardless of your job position. Of course this concept takes on power if it becomes a collective effort, which carries greater weight.
The second word is collaboration: we are talking about the ability to create a system, something in which men are very good. This is one of the elements of empowerment that women must work on to improve themselves.They have to get used to thinking of other women as support, allies, partners, precisely as part of a larger system. Women in society or in life are good: think about family, friendships. I'm talking about a systemic professional collaboration. Think of a female colleague first, support each other. Women still do not "think woman", even if the idea of making it a closed system is far from me. But the idea is to always keep in mind our great and powerful universe. Naturally, always starting from value and competence.
Another word linked to empowerment and on which we need to improve is lightness: doing things well, seriously, but learning to lighten the atmosphere with irony. Even if it is early, because the critical mass of women at the top is still relatively small, and therefore we are more predisposed to prioritize other things.
4. What would you say to the 18-year-old you and the 18-year-olds today?
I have already said a lot of things to the 18-year-old me, I'm okay and made up. I'd like to speak to 18-year-olds today and I'd like to share a couple of things with them. First of all, use your head and heart well and together. Test why they need to inform themselves, collect data and understand how the world is going. An example: let's talk about STEM, the technical-scientific faculties in which women are still a minority, and this is a fact. But then we also talk about the heart: not necessarily all women like these disciplines. The important thing is that girls are not blocked by obsolete stereotypes that hold them back in these choices. In short, I believe that our realization passes from both these poles, head and heart, because we need to get informed, especially to overcome stereotypes, but we must also listen to our passions to feel fulfilled.
The other important concept is that of the culture of mistake and error, as long as it serves to grow. It is something I learned from the Americans, having made my professional career in global companies. We have in our culture of belonging a concept of "error that amounts to a fault. So even young people who make a mistake or change their minds we experience them as a "minus sign" on the register. The issue of error, on the other hand, is fundamental, as long as it serves to grow. I believe that some mistakes are worth making immediately, to grow and improve.
The other theme is certainly that of knowing the world. I was lucky enough to have one of the first Erasmus in history. Today the kids have phenomenal opportunities. They have to go, because staying closed within their own perimeter does not help to form an inclusive mind , since we're talking about women and gender. Know the world, find out, but come back. We need you!
5. How much need is there to talk about women empowerment today and what should be done?
It is necessary to talk about it, the results are not there yet. Women empowerment is an issue that affects everyone and not only the female gender, it is not only an ethical or moral issue, but also a social, economic and political one. Therefore, it must not be faced in some kind of closed club of all women but between individuals, regardless of gender. Companies should also take an interest in it, each in their own ways.
There is no perfect "recipe" for what to do, it all depends on the circumstances, even as far as the company is concerned. Ours is an industrial reality that deals with technologies and innovation, it is clear that in our case inclusion passes from the possibility of having more women who do this type of job. Our mission is to raise more girls in technical and scientific faculties, make them aware and ensure that they graduate with honors. So everyone must look at women empowerment according to their own point of view and focus attention on a specific goal.
Given these assumptions, exchanging good practices is essential, also through associations that involve entities of various sizes, such as the Valore D association of which I am a councilor or STEM by Women chaired by our HR Leader Barbara Preti.
In short, we need to talk about it and make things happen.