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Feminine leadership: the gender paradox and the future of innovation

18.06.2019

By Carolina Barreto; HEC Paris

 

With Augusto Lopez Claros, Senior Fellow, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, Gabriella Fitzgerald, Executive Vice President & General Manager, U.S. Large Market & Global Commercial Clients, American Express , Mia Pearson, CEO, MSL Canada ,Gabriela Ramos, Chief of Staff and Sherpa to the G20, OECD , Kelli H. Wright, Executive, Special Projects, Lubricants Technology, ExxonMobil Research & Engineering Company

 

Are quotas the solution for the gap gender and if so, are there enough women prepared?

 

According to Gabrielle Fitzgerald from American Express, this is a solution that we should explore widely in the Americas. According to the OECD, quotas have helped EU countries to smooth the gap gender in the public and private sector. This measure doesn’t need to be permanent, but it will be a good incentive to boost women participation specially in leading positions. On the other hand, Gabriele talked about how the AMEX culture has helped her to achieve her goals as leader. Among them a strong cultural foundation, internal leadership training and an open mindset for innovation.

 

Gabriela Ramos from the G20 also agreed with quotas as a short-term solution. However, women need to deliver in order for the society to understand that their success is not due to the quota per se but due to their hard work after the opportunity. Even though data will support this vision, the hard-core decisions should come from the top. In this regard, Mexico is leading in the region; thanks to a quota policy, the congress is now better balanced: almost half of the staff are women.

 

In this sense, we can see that one part of the equation can be managed but what if there are not enough prepared women out there to take those positions? 

 

Kelli Wright from Exxon Mobil raised this concern regarding government budget and positive nudges among women. One out of four choose to go to STEM and only 13% of innovation in the world is generated by women. Government should prioritize budget to education and technology. For instance, Energy will increase 25% to 2025. We need tech solutions that do not exist today. We need women working on this problem from schools and universities.

 

Complementing all these positions, Mia Pearson from MSL Canada explained how Communications can help shaping this future with better roles and more realistic models for young women to believe that is possible.

 

Summing up, even though there are short term-solutions for the current gender gap, governments and the private need to have a long-term strategy to invest in education now to fill up the future needs in Tech.

 

 This article is part of a series on #WFAmericas. Watch the full session on YouTube.