“I believe that true passion has no gender and focusing on your goals and dreams helps you to overcome gender and cultural boundaries.”
Simonetta Di Pippo, Astrophysicist, Director of the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs
We welcome you to our first Female leaders supplement*, Female Leadership in Our Time, which coincides with our March/April issue of TEBR. This is the first of what we hope will be an ongoing project. It seemed to us that a handful of names in technology and politics are recycled time and time again when people talk about women in leadership. In this supplement, we go behind the headlines and sound bites to bring to life the experiences of women who are following their passion and advancing in their careers.
Women’s roles are constantly evolving in our modern times and we go to press at a time of unprecedented anticipation, as Hillary Rodham Clinton makes her second bid to become the first female President of the United States of America. In its almost 240 years of history, it is notable that a woman has never been elected from the ranks of American women to rule that country, while in its backyard in South America, women scaled the heights and have become heads of states in their respective countries: Isabel Martínez de Perón (Argentina, 1974 – 1976), Violeta Chamorro (Nicaragua 1990 – 1997), Mireya Moscoso (Panama 1999 – 2004), Christine Fernández de Kirchner (Argentina 2007 – 2015), Veronica Michelle Bachelet (Chile 2006 – 2010, 2014 –), Laura Chinchilla (Costa Rica 2010 – 2014), Dilma Rousseff (Brazil, 2011 –).
We go to press a few days after that formidable woman, Aung San Suu Kyi scored another decisive victory in Myanmar (Burma). Her party, Myanmar National League for Democracy (NLD), successfully created a new powerful role of State Counsellor, which circumvents the constitutional ban on her serving as President. As State Counsellor, Aung San Suu Kyi will serve in a position akin to that of a Prime Minister thereby fulfilling her election promise to occupy a role above the elected President. And as Baroness Patricia Scotland takes office as the first female Secretary General of the Commonwealth, we pause to ruminate on the nature, extent and challenges of Female Leadership in Our Time. From the USA to Africa, from Asia to Europe, women are playing their part in shaping the future of our world at all levels and across many industries and professions.
In this collection of interviews, we hear the voices of women leaders from different industries and different parts of the world telling their own story about their journey to leadership. They talk about their career choices, they address questions of female representation in their industry, issues relating to work/life balance, their leadership styles, and they do not shy away from exploring the challenges they face as women in their chosen fields.
What reverberates through all these interviews, and defines all these women – all of them without any exception – is their passion for what they do and what they can achieve. Yes there are cultural biases, there are gender biases, but they all show us that true passion has no gender, has no limits. With passion these women have scaled professional, societal and cultural boundaries. These women have accepted challenges, taken risks and these women in their own way “have not taken biases too seriously so as to put limitations on themselves and their career choices” (Franziska Gsell, CMO, IWC Schaffhausen).
We hope that you will enjoy this supplement and you will return to it time and time again as a source of inspiration and joy.
*We invite you to be part of our next supplement. We would like to feature you, or any female leader that you think should be part of this ongoing project. Please do not hesitate to drop us a line so that you or anyone you know can be part of our next supplement.