Society 04/03/2021

Industry fails to break the glass ceiling

A study by Barcelona's Free Trade Zone shows that women, despite having better training, do not reach management positions

3 min
Blanca Sorigué, General Manager of the Free Trade Zone Consortium.
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BarcelonaWomen have not managed to break the glass ceiling in industry. This is confirmed by a study carried out by the Free Trade Zone Consortium among the companies located in this large industrial estate. The conclusion is very clear: women have better training than men, but in terms of employment they are in a more precarious situation and, moreover, it is much more difficult for them to reach management positions in their companies. "If at 35 years old you have not reached a medium-high position, it is impossible", explains Blanca Sorigué, general director of the Consortium.

The study, carried out by Gesop, is conclusive. The workforce of the companies in the Free Trade Zone is basically male: 73.9% men and 26.1% women. However, while 31.4% of women are university graduates, under 26% of men have completed higher education. In spite of their better preparation, only 12.5% of women - compared to 18.3% of men - occupy managerial positions. Precariousness translates into a higher proportion of women workers who have part-time contracts (9.4%) than the average for all workers (5.7%). This comes despite 93% companies claiming they are "very committed" to gender equality.

The study also indicates that nearly half of the companies interviewed have a plan for equality between men and women, and a third have a protocol for the prevention of sexual harassment, a tool that is more common in larger companies.

The Free Trade Zone Consortium, explains Blanca Sorigué, has already taken some measures to promote equality in this highly masculinised industrial world. For example, it has created the Women's Industrial Council. It has also promoted, together with the Chambers of Commerce's Incyde Foundation, the Barcelona Women Acceleration Week (BWAW), an equality congress, with fifty speakers and 14 events, with the aim of accelerating and boosting gender equality to achieve the full participation of women and opportunities in the industrial sector, both locally and globally. BWAW is not a one-off event, but a congress that will have continuity year after year, says the director of the Consortium.

"In the industrial field there is almost no presence of women", explains Sorigué, who also points out that their recruitment "is quite precarious". The director defends the BWAW because "women must be empowered". She also highlights the fact that it is not a congress only for women, but that the participation, both in terms of speakers and attendees, is quite equal. "To empower women we need debates with the whole population, men and women", argues Blanca Sorigué.

This executive notes the lack of female presence on the boards of directors of companies when, according to her, "female senior management is very interesting and inspiring". And she wants there to be women as references to encourage new generations. Sorigué explains that despite the fact that they are a minority in technological degrees, in the 3D printing incubator that the Consortium has, there are 51 start-ups of which half have been founded by women, most of them engineers under 30.

Sorigué is clear that "those who have reached management positions have had to sacrifice a lot in life". She also talks about motherhood. "You will never get to do anything you hadn't done before you became a mother" she says. "You get labelled and you can't do any more," says Sorigué. "The market makes you choose whether you want to be a mother or have a career," she argues, "and it would be nice not to have to choose".

The delay in the age at which women become mothers does not play in their favour to become managers, adds Sorigué, who believes that they should be encouraged to have children earlier. "The companies have to promote it", she explains, although she recognises that with the current labour market it is difficult. That is why, she recalls, "in many countries they are helped". "Talent has no gender, but we don't make things easy," she concludes.

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