How the ENWE network can help with increasing the presence of women experts in a man’s world
On 22 November in Bologna, Italy, the European Network for Women Excellence (ENWE) held its second public event (after the one in Milan on 2 December 2021) to paint a realistic picture of gender equality for the public and the media by providing data and contributions from women experts and journalists.
The “Le competenze femminili per una nuova Europa [Women’s Skills for a new Europe]” conference raised the issue of a lack of representation and participation of competent women in the media as experts and academic, executive, and institutional leaders. Of course, there is not a shortage of top-level women professionals, but a system based on stereotypes continues to favor men’s success and exposure at the expense of women.
That happens in most countries on our continent, and the four databases of the ENWE network – 100esperte, AcademiaNet, Agenda d’Expertes, and Les Expertes – have stepped up to fight against it also by hosting training sessions and events.
There was no room for recriminations at the event moderated by Paola Rizzi, a member of the Italian association of women journalists GiULiA and one of the co-founders of ENWE, in the Sala Biagi of Quartiere Santo Stefano in Bologna, as part of the Festival della Cultura Tecnica.
However, it was a chance to examine an objective reality, as Monia Azzalini of the Pavia Observatory presented embarrassing data from the latest Global Media Monitoring Project 2020, which monitors women in the media every five years. The data confirmed the persistent low presence of women experts in the European (25%) and Italian (12%) media. Despite this unfair situation, Azzalini argues that we should dedicate ourselves to positively valorizing women’s reputations, hoping to change how newspapers and television talk about them: for instance, referring to them by their first names and private roles (wives, daughters, sisters), and not by their professional titles.
At the opening of the conference, ENWE’s Media Ambassador Agnese Pini, editor-in-chief of the Italian daily newspapers QN Quotidiano Nazionale, Il Giorno, Il Resto del Carlino, and La Nazione, and Silvestro Ramunno, president of the Emilia-Romagna Journalists’ Association, spoke about this commitment and further collaborative efforts.
In most European countries, projects and databases have sprung up due to these data and urges, including the four that comprise the ENWE network.
Journalist Maria Luisa Villa presented the Italian databank 100esperte, reiterating the constant efforts to recruit women experts in new fields (sports experts will be added to the database in 2023) and the continuous commitment to training journalists and schools and universities alike.
The other three databases were presented by their respective members via video presentations. The French and francophone Les Expertes, with support from the government and the media, is replicating its model in Senegal, Tunisia, and Algeria and will soon launch Les Expertes Switzerland and Les Expertes Africa.
The Valencia-based Agenda d’Expertes, created by journalists of the Uniò de Periodistes, is steadily growing and paving the way for other similar initiatives in Spain. AcademiaNet is an established and powerful tool for identifying female scientists across all disciplines and fields in various European countries.
Yet, the gender gap exists everywhere today. Journalist and ENWE co-founder Luisella Seveso cited the absence of women at management levels in academia as an example, despite their brilliant performances and the percentage of female students at universities. A critical situation to sum up as follows: in Italy, seven women are at the head of a university, compared to 79 men, and female lecturers only account for 25% of the total. It is very similar to the European average as well.
Marcella Corsi, economist and lecturer at La Sapienza University in Rome, also pointed out that the low presence of women in the labor force in Europe harms growth and welfare. Moreover, according to the EIGE index, which has been monitoring gender equality since 2013, there was no progress in 2020, and the pandemic most likely set things back.
Despite this, the fight for gender equality is worthwhile and valuable. GDP would increase by 2.5 by 2050 if, for example, the education sector was improved with more schools, kindergartens, and more convenient schedules, which have significant relevance for equality. Furthermore, as a result of policies aimed at assisting women with entering the workforce, by that time, the employment rate in Europe will have increased to 80%, with 10.5 million more jobs and a marked reduction in poverty.
ENWE – European Network for Women Excellence is an advocacy group committed to creating a network of European databases that offer an extensive selection of prestigious female profiles for interviews, conferences, and panels. Find out more about our network of partners here.