This year’s International Women’s Day theme, #ChooseToChallenge, is fitting. Rarely have we experienced a time as challenging as the current. Let’s all take this opportunity to recognize the disproportionate workload that women are bearing and work to achieve an equal future.
One of the #ChooseToChallenge missions is “to seek out and celebrate women's achievements.” So, we’re celebrating women who work in science for OEKO-TEX®. We interviewed two representatives on the role of women in science, their biggest challenges and developments in this area.
Chiara Salmoiraghi is responsible for the OEKO-TEX® product certification department at Centrocot, an OEKO-TEX® member institute in based in Italy. For Chiara, there is no such thing as a typical working day. In addition to various management tasks, she is in contact with customers, coordinating employees, joining technical meetings and conducting textile analysis in the laboratory. Her varied and extensive workload requires adaptability.
"The biggest challenge for me is always to succeed as a professional in a male-dominated world and to gain a certain credibility that transcends gender and is based solely on skills, professionalism and preparation." That's why Chiara is pleased to work in a company where gender differences have never been an obstacle. Rather differences are seen an asset and an opportunity.
Fátima Pinto has had similar experiences at Citeve, an OEKO-TEX® member institute based in Portugal. After gaining valuable experience in the analytical laboratory, she is now involved in the certification process. Among other things, she works with customers, analyzes processes, issues certificates and influences updates to OEKO-TEX® standards. Fátima and her department, which consists mainly of women, agree on one need above all: team spirit.
Fátima sees that women are playing an increasingly important role in science and research. "Women must have the same opportunities as men, in science-related positions and in all others. We have shown over the years that we have great skills in all areas."
Still, there is work to be done. While the role of women in science has made progress, there is still a long way to go. For example, many women who have made important achievements in science continue to be overshadowed.
Chiara also sees this as an opportunity for companies to support young girls and women: "Unfortunately, fewer women are enrolling in scientific degree programs today. The reason for the lack of interest in technical and scientific subjects is mainly cultural; to be found in the prejudice that sees humanities studies as more suitable for a female career. The company where I work employs 70% women. We organize postgraduate technical training courses to fill the gap in technical skills needed in the industry due to the low number of graduates in science subjects. Gender parity is ensured in these courses."
Both agree on one thing: women need to work together, make their way in science and dare to get a foothold in this world. "Every woman should remember her own value, never be intimidated or belittled by anyone, walk towards the goal with her head held high, and firmly believe in her own abilities," says Chiara. Fátima adds, "We must believe in ourselves. We must maintain our goals. With work and dedication, we are able to achieve them. Our great sensitivity is one of the most important qualities that contributes to making the world a better place."