EPN Team was glad to have the opportunity of interviewing Ms. Isabella Lenarduzzi, Social Entrepreneur in Employment and Gender equality.
Isabella Lenarduzzi started her social entrepreneur career during her studies when she edited two monthly magazines, “Univers-Cité” and “Kampus”, distributed in the Student Welcome Pack to more than 1 million students in Europe. She then moved to Italy where she established a consultancy and training activity and held the position of deputy director at the Naples Science Museum where she created Italy’s “Guidance and Careers Resource Centre”. After coming back to Brussels, she set up the European Business Summit and the Brussels Job Days. In 2006, she launched JUMP “Empowering Women, Advancing the Economy”. The goal of the organisation is to provide the adequate tools to women in order to help them pursue their professional career. It also advises organisations on how to establish better gender diversity within their management.
She won several awards for her inspiring work: “European female entrepreneur of the year” in 2010, “Femme d’Exception” (Woman of exception) in 2011 by the Belgian Minister for Equal Opportunities Joëlle Milquet, “” ‘Award for event communication in June 2011 and “Women inspiring Europe” in 2012 by the European Institute for Gender Equality.
During the interview, Mrs Lenarduzzi highlighted specific difficulties women had to face in their career. As women are responsible of most of the unpaid work (care keeping, children’s education, etc.), one could say they have a double day. This double workload decreases the time and energy they would normally deploy in networking.
Moreover, women are also less comfortable when discussing business and network differently. In fact, when women network, they usually favour the building of relationships over business relations. Mrs Lenarduzzi advises women to dare much more, to position themselves for business and to find different networks. Female networking is very important to reinforce oneself. Women give each other the energy, the assertivity and the self-confidence which will enable them to establish contacts and network with men.
Our culture represents women as the caregivers of the family and men as the bread-earners. Consequently, people feel uncomfortable when the roles are reversed. It can thus be difficult for women to stand for themselves and pursue their career. Independence and braveness are essential qualities women must have if they want to undertake something new.
Women should also broaden their horizons and try “male-oriented” professions such as engineering or bus driving. When a job is dominated by men, it is generally more valued and paid. Nevertheless, when a profession becomes increasingly feminised, the job itself loses its status and income value. This calls for a drastic change in the mentalities and the perception of jobs.
We were impressed by the eagerness and ambition Mrs Lenarduzzi devoted to her work and in the promotion of gender equality. She is an inspiration for young female graduates who may have lost their faith in this period of crisis. This interview reminded us of the gap that still exists between men and women and which has to be filled.
Here are the youtube links to her interview: