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Thursday, March 7, 2019

Working towards visibility: Three successful women-led projects

For the second time since it joined the forum, Chile has become the host of APEC. This challenge gave us the opportunity to choose priority areas. One of these is the issue Women, SMEs and Inclusive Growth. In the context of International Women’s Day, we share the story of three Chilean women who are blazing a path in spaces that have traditionally been dominated by men.

Adriana Bastías/ Women’s Research Network.

Adriana Bastías is a biochemist who holds a doctorate in the Sciences and specializes in plant genetic engineering. She works in academia, but her commitment to the inclusion of women led her to become the president of an association called the Women’s Research Network.

What is the goal of the Women’s Research Network?

-We are trying to reflect the work that women are doing in the field of research. We are also calling attention to the obstacles or barriers that prevent them from developing a normal academic career.

What obstacles have you found in your work environment?

-One of the obstacles is trying to balance motherhood with research. Co-responsibility is currently a myth, and we hope that progress is made in this area because we know that children are not only their mothers’ responsibility. There are also barriers for women within their development in the sciences. This is mainly due to stereotypes that prevent them from moving forward as they should. There is a reason that only 17% of research centers are directed by women. That number drops to 3% in the case of university presidents.

Carolina Sepúlveda and Mariana Valenzuela/ More Women in UX

Carolina, a designer, and Mariana, a journalist, teamed up to create More Women in UX, a community of women who work or are interested in the user experience. The entity’s main goal is to highlight the presence of women in this male-dominated discipline.

What has been the greatest obstacle in the development of More Women in UX?

-One of the main obstacles has been recruiting women who are experts or who want to share their knowledge as part of our activities. It has been wonderful to find them, but we have had to seek them out one by one because women are not used to being called on to share their knowledge or experiences and work in workshops or lectures.

How do you feel you have contributed to the inclusion of women in this area?

-We have been able to support women by giving them a space in which they can be vulnerable and ask questions, where they can be confident and safe in order to be able to learn. We have tried to explain that our participants are the leaders of their process and that they can take the reins, make decisions and stand up and be empowered by the tools that we provide to the community through workshops, talks, knowledge and mentorships.

Mai-Nie Chang/ Hay Mujeres (There are Women) Foundation

Mai-Nie is the founder and former president of Women Leaders in Atacama. She is a business owner, executive coach who specializes in corporate social responsibility, and a member of Women Leaders of the Americas. Chang has developed many projects, and is currently the Executive Director of the Hay Mujeres Foundation, which was created in Chile in 2013.

What is the mission of Hay Mujeres?

-The foundation promotes the visibility of women through their voice and opinion as an aspect of their leadership. We work to promote women’s presence in every space in which public opinion is formed.

How do you view the problem of the invisibility of women?

-The invisibility of women is a global problem, and the obstacles that we find in Chile are very similar to those that exist elsewhere in the world. One of the most important challenges is the way that women are attacked on social media when they speak up and share their opinion. It will be hard to move forward until we raise awareness of the importance of women’s participation in public discussions.

What message would you give women?

-My message is that women can occupy all of the spaces that have been given to us, that we can raise our voices and share our unique opinions.

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