Argentinian delegation joins leading Cambridge women at Trinity College forum designed to influence G20
Group discusses female economic empowerment
A high-level delegation from Argentina met a group of influential Cambridge women to find new ways of encouraging world leaders to help improve gender equality in the workplace ahead of the G20 economic gathering later this year.
Trinity College hailed a “history-changing” moment as members of the Argentinian group sat down with leading Cambridge figures from academia, business and civic society to highlight how female economic empowerment is not just an issue of fairness but of smart economics for all.
The Women and Global Leadership Forum convened to explore how to improve the participation of women in economies and societies across a world where almost half do not have their own income and those who do earn on average 30 per cent less than their male counterparts.
One of key goals of the forum was to find ways to support women into leadership roles from many and varied backgrounds.
Cambridge delegate Dr Alejandra Palermo, senior manager of external relations at the Royal Society of Chemistry, stressed the challenges faced in even the most advanced educational institutions: “If you look at chemistry or biology subjects you don’t have a problem at entry level. Women are at equal levels with men.
“We have around 45 per cent of undergraduates in chemistry, in biology around 70 per cent, but when you look at senior positions it drops back to 30 per cent in biology and 9 per cent in chemistry. So how do you lose all these women?
“It’s not about how we get more engaged with them in the early stages but how we provide equal opportunities for all.”
Prof Valerie Gibson, fellow of Trinity College and head of the High Energy Physics Research Group at Cavendish Laboratory, said it is not about women imitating the way leaders act now.
“It’s cultural change – not making women like men,” she said. “It’s about making them do their own thing in the best possible way and getting the best out of everybody. It’s equality of opportunity, the quality of behaviour and how they interact.”
Among the Argentinian delegation were the MP of Buenos Aires, Rt Hon Suzanna Lazarri, the ambassador to the UK, Carlos Sersale di Cerisano, and business leaders.
Fabiana Ricagno, director of communications and member of the Inter-American Council for Trade and Commerce, said: “If you really want a cultural transformation you have to fight for it. Women have to work outside the home, not only raising a family.”
On the discussions she added: “It’s been extremely successful. I feel so grateful as I’m leaving Trinity College with many new thoughts in mind.”
The Argentinian delegation are taking the ideas put forward in Cambridge to a summit of the Women20 (W20) group, whose official task is to make sure gender equality is central to G20 decision making when world leaders meet in Buenos Aires later this year. W20 Argentina is a network bringing together women leaders of civil society, businesses, entrepreneurship ventures and think tanks. This year, Argentina became the first South American country to hold the presidency of the G20.
The forum was organised by Trinity’s Post-Doctoral Society, Trinity fellow Dr Mireia Crispin and Global Shapers Cambridge Hub, an initiative of the World Economic Forum.
Dr Matias Acosta, the newly-elected president of the Post-Doctoral Society, said: “I strongly believe that a discussion among leaders with different professional and cultural backgrounds, but facing similar challenges, will help in the development of effective strategies to promote a sustainable future.”
The Cambridge delegation also included Professor Eilis Ferran, pro-vice chancellor for institutional and international relations, Dame Ottoline Leyser, director of the Sainsbury Laboratory, Dame Barbara Stocking, president of Murray Edwards College, Jeanette Walker, director of Cambridge Science Park, Karina Prasad, head of the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, Amanda Askham, director of transformation at Cambridgeshire County Council, and Nicky Massey, a Labour councillor recently elected to Cambridge City Council. Representatives from the Royal Society and Chatham House also attended.