More Women Employed, Fewer Leaders in Italy

A translated part from an article appeared on the Italian newspaper “Corriere della Sera” of 14/08/09.

Job & Career – Public employment: more women, few leaders “In Italy The percentage of women mayors is increasing, even if just a little. In the last elections there were some new women as candidates. But we can't still be happy. In the municipal administrations, even in the most important institutions, in the ministries and public offices, the number of women who work is equal and also higher than the men's one. But leader positions are left on a male planet, which is most of times also sexist. And in a country which has expressed also important female personalities among the international scientific research, for example Rita Levi Montalcini and Margherita Hack, the most shocking case stands in the academic world. Italian universities are dominate by men. Only the 2,4% are female chancellors. And there's a definite domination of men also among ordinary lecturers. These are some dates given by Cittalia, the ANCI foundation (which stands for National Association of Italian Commons).”

The Cittalia analysis has started from the local bodies: the result shows that in a total of 148 000 municipal administrators women are only the 17,6%. And if we go up in the hierarchy, women are only the 10,3% of mayors. In reality after the last elections the datum has grown a little. Actually before the election of June '09 the women mayors were hardly the 9,8% of the total. In the 12 commons where the population is more than 250 000 inhabitants, 3 are managed by women: Milan by Letizia Moratti, Genoa by Marta Vincenzi and Naples by Rosa Russo Iervolino. But instead many cities, like Rome, have never had a woman mayor. Moreover women are more in the Northern area's municipal-politic life, while they're still fewer in the Southern area of Italy, particularly in Sicily and Calabria; in these two regions some small commons register less than the 4% of women as municipal officials.

Moreover, the Cittalia foundation has widen the research to other social life's sides. And the dates are clear: in Italy the female presence has generally grown in the public offices: this is a positive trend, even if men are still the leaders. The certain thing is that women are more and more, even if they do a short career. Instead for the magistrates, by now women represent the 40,5% of judges. We aren't on the same level of men yet, but the Justice Minister says that women could arrive at the 50% of presences in few years, because in every competition the female presence's increasing both among members and winners. The real problem is the female presence in the positions of higher responsibilities: the women who have reached leader tasks, also in the Justice area where one would expect more equality, are still very few.

On the other side, we must say that in public offices, ministries and local bodies the 53,4% of employees are women. So we could say that the equality has been reached in the pyramid basis. And if the police remains a male and sexist job, in the archaelogical leader positions women have reached the 50% of presences.

At the end we arrive at the “university chapter”. Here women researchers are the 42,9% of the total and they become the 50% in humanistic subjects and biology. And then? The career jams: women who become associated lecturers are less than the 26% and ordinary lecturers are only the 15,9%. This happens also in some faculties whic have generally a strong female presence, for example psychology, literature, philosophy and pharmacy. So also in the italian academic world the leader positions are nearly entirely reserved to men: there are 4 women chancellors in all the country."

This is the reality here: unfortunately presidential tasks remain men's property, I think for a simple but stupid, wrong and backward reason: the belief is still that a woman, who has to run also the family and domestic problems, is less suitable than a man for the responsibility. Maybe we need a more modern, cultural way of seeing things.

Or maybe sometimes it's also a women fault: in Italy many women have the tendency to exlude themselves from their job life. Some of them are trapped by the omnipresent spectrum of maternity and they fail to organise their job/social/sentimental life around it. This is why a woman starts well her career, because she may have good  potential, but in many cases, when she arrives at the age of 35/40 she begins to think that maternity can replace her career. So, after the baby's born, most of time they can't or aren't allowed to continue their career as they did before maternity, and at the end they don't arrive at the top. 

Many other times women are excluded from their job life when they decide to have a baby or they're are already pregnant; in some cases their boss prefers to substitute them with a younger woman or also with a man who can develope her/his career in the long term. I think both these behaviors are wrong, even if I know that they exist in my country. In my opinion a woman should be free to decide to have child or not, with a complete awareness that she's not going to miss her job anyway.

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Valentina V.
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