Gender equality is not a utopia


By Paula Paschoal

General Manager at PayPal

It was with great joy that I received the information that I am on the Women's Forum's Rising Talents 2018 list. The event takes place this Wednesday (14/11) in Paris. It will be a rare opportunity to learn a more about what is being done in the world regarding gender equality in the corporate world.


Debates on the need of gender equality in the business world are increasing, reflecting a disparity that has not yet been overcome in the 21st century. According to the World Economic Forum, in a frightening prediction, the pay of men and women occupying the same position will only be the same until 2095! The scenario in Brazil is particularly worrying since the country occupies one of the worst positions in the wage equality rank released by the WEF.

This issue has gained an increasing prominence among organizations. This is because, in addition to bringing diversity, female participation can influence business outcomes. According to a study by McKinsey Consulting in 2017, having women in leadership positions increases the companies’ chances of achieving above-average financial performance by 21 percent. The Delivering Through Diversity survey looked at more than 1,000 companies in 12 countries.

Despite bringing good results, the survey revealed that women's participation as business leaders is still small. The companies with the highest diversity, according to the report, have only 10% of women in their executive corps. In the organizations with the lowest index, the female presence is 1%.

Being a mother of two girls and analyzing my personal experience, I noted the lack of encouragement to women interested in pursuing an executive career because of the myth of unattainable balance between a happy personal life and work.

In the last 18 years, I participated of several events throughout the country talking about this subject – in cities as distinct as Brasília, Porto Alegre, Campinas and Recife. I also gave interviews to the major Brazilian vehicles such as Rede Globo and GloboNews TV chanels, O Estado de S. Paulo, Folha de S. Paulo, Correio Braziliense, Zero Hora, and Valor Econômico newspapaers, and Época, Época Negócios, and IstoÉ Dinheiro magazines.

In my speech, I always discuss the latest IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) data where women currently correspond to 43.8% of the Brazilian workforce. But our participation drops as you go up the hierarchy chain. Women represent only 37% of the director and manager posts in national companies. And up top, in the executive committees of big companies, we don’t even reach 10%.

If we take into consideration another official government study about scholarship this gap gets even bigger and harder to explain. According to the study, of the working women with 16 years or more, 18.8% have a complete college education, while, among men in the same category, the percentage is 11%.

And more: women’s education is also superior in the professional sphere. According to another government study from the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, there are more women taking labor qualification courses. The numbers don’t lie. From 2003 to 2012, of 1.8 million students, 713 thousand were women, in other words, more than 60% of the total number of students.

Unfortunately, examples of successful cases showing the so-called "stone path" are still missing. And it is with this goal, to change the current panorama of executive or working women, that I spend part of my time outside the office giving lectures and sharing my experience with other women.

I want to show that it is possible to reconcile personal and professional life. In addition to attending college seminars, I participate in Third Sector programs aligned with my purpose.

I’ve always imagined that I did not have privileges and that my career growth was due to my personal effort and focus. It was only when I came to live with people who did not have opportunities that I began to understand how privileged I was. I got to know many women who did not have a chance to compete on equal terms with similarly prepared candidates.

I am white, I have never been hungry, I have married parents and I have always studied in the best schools. These are precious privileges.

I see a lot of people with the same dedication as I, however, the opportunities do not come, the doors do not open for them. I’ve been struggling to understand how it is possible to bring women similar opportunities. I consider this a fundamental pillar of my career and personal life because it is the legacy I want to leave

I am passionate about what I do and I always try to be close to my team, working in partnership and without losing sight that I am dealing with people, not merely task executors. So, in order to strengthen their engagement and achieve the expected results, my leadership is guided by sensitivity, by the understanding of individualities - of course, respecting the concepts of meritocracy and competence, which are gender-neutral.

Due to this (and much more), it is a great honor to be nominated as one of the Rising Talents 2018 of the Women’s Forum Global Meeting. This will be a great opportunity to demonstrate to the world the importance of women empowerment and gender equality.

I also hope to be an important role model for women (and also men) who will attend the event.


This article is part of a LinkedIn series for the Women’s Forum Global Meeting 2018, demonstrating how participants and partners of the Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society are #BridgingHumanity to drive inclusive progress. Visit our website and join the conversation using #WFGM18.