International Conference 2021

A throwback to the International Conference

Here we are, ten days after the EWMD International Conference 2021 to share with you a post-event overview from the privileged place that the Orga Team was able to occupy: the backstage of an international event that was followed for months creating texts, images, posts for social media coordinating with the international team and the National Board.

This is the growth you often hear EWMD members talking about: learning by doing, getting out of our comfort zone, accepting new challenges, facing and solving obstacles and collaborating from various parts of Italy and Europe. 

We gave ourselves a week of reflection because there were so many points to consider: what emerged was exciting and pushed us to think carefully about some aspects that perhaps, until now, we did not notice and did not take into account.

As you know if you have followed us during the past weeks, Covid19 prevented the International Conference 2021 from being in presence, but it did not stop the spirit, on the contrary it allowed several people from every corner of the world to participate (South Africa, India, China just to name a few).

What is the Glass Cliff? 

Does naming a phenomenon make it more real? Perhaps, simply, it opens our eyes and allows us to more clearly identify what we were previously unable to name. The term "glass cliff" was coined by University of Exeter researchers Michelle K. Ryan, Alexander Haslam and Julie S. Ashby and stands for the tendency to promote female professionals to positions of power during periods of crisis or recession, i.e., in situations with a high rate of possible failure.

What does this phenomenon imply? There are two possible outcomes: the female professional successfully leads the company or institution out of the crisis, giving her the chance to be seen as progressive, or the female professional does not pass the test positively and passes as a scapegoat, leaving way for a man who is seen as the salvation solution. 
Why does this happen? The reason is very simple: top positions are limited and only rarely offered to female professionals, so they are more inclined to take the risk and seize an opportunity that is more unique than rare.

How we addressed the topic during the International Conference

The Board and the EWMD International Orga Team virtually welcomed the participants not only from La Spezia, but also from every chapter of EWMD Italy, creating contrasting feelings in the audience: the regret of not being able to attend and see these places in person as well as the stimulus to visit them as soon as possible.
The introductory greetings took us on a journey through our Italy and together with the contributions of the Mayor of La Spezia Pierluigi Peracchini, the greetings of the International EWMD Presidents Nadine Nembach and Paola Ligabue, the welcome of the President of EWMD La Spezia Franca Guidotti, the contributions of Francesca Bagni Cipriani (National Councillor of Equality) and Brando Benifei (Representative of the European Parliament) opened the day with a warm welcome to all attendees.

Renata Pelati, President of EWMD Italy, welcomed the participants with the sentence "EWMD allows us to look "beyond". Beyond national borders, beyond what we are today in order to shape together what we will be in the future. We know that making a change is difficult because social transformation needs both individual and collective actions, but we must continue to believe that the change is possible and that our action is essential to achieve real and lasting improvement."

Laura Dalè, vice president of EWMD Italy, continued focusing on our internationality "Our dream is that the great Europe may one day see men and women walking together, respecting each other and feeling different but equal, and this is what we are working for. The commitment that we have to take towards women, those of today and even more those of tomorrow, for us and for our daughters is to try to create the conditions so that Europe can represent a concrete future and not only a dream and to ensure that Italy is part of this project".

The Morning Session

Our speakers took us on a journey through their professions and experiences and declined the phenomenon addressing it from various points of view:

  • Adriana Albini - Special Guest: Fantasy, Novel and Science
  • Politics: Martina Avanza - " Do women do it better? " Women in politics and the challenges they face
  • Economics: Ferose Oaten - The power of women in emerging economies
  • Society: Flaminio Squazzoni - Social Trends
  • Science: Delia Goletti - Beyond the Covid

Martina Avanza - Associate Professor of Political Sociology at the University of Lausanne (Switzerland) engaged the participants through an interactive workshop during which she answered questions and curiosities that emerged also in her morning speech. We were able to see how the difficulties women face in their political careers are also shared in other professional fields.

Ferose Oaten - CEO of TUV SUD South Africa and Managing Director of AVTS Roadworthy Stations - took us on a journey through the world's emerging economies and how the women who lead them face challenges, what barriers they have to overcome, and shared some tips for overcoming these obstacles.

Adriana Albini - Head of the Laboratory of Vascular Biology and Angiogenesis IRCCS MultiMedica, Milan - told us about her path and career and shared with us 10 very useful tips for those who want to pursue a career in medical research, but applicable to any career.

Flaminio Squazzoni - Full Professor of Sociology at the University of Milan - made us reflect by giving us some inputs among which: "give the opportunity to minorities to change things, not only to solve problems".

Delia Goletti - Head of Translational Research, IRCCS Spallanzani - has enlightened our minds by highlighting how from the darkness of the Covid19 pandemic have arisen certain flashes of light with surprising impacts. Some examples:

All this emerged during the two-hour morning session of the International Conference. The points of reflection were countless, they stimulated questions, thoughts, opened our eyes and also awakened feelings of injustice, anger and desire to change the situation of women professionals, regardless of role, field, age and country.

Final Considerations

Covid19 did not stop the organization the EWMD International Conference, during which we were not only able to address interesting topics but also had the opportunity to participate and interact, although virtually, with trained professionals who stimulated many feelings among the participants.

Just as Covid19 did not stop the Conference, we hope that the issues and challenges that emerged will not block the professional successes of our colleagues. There is a need to bring these issues to the general attention, to give them a name so that the whole society, men and women together, can build a ground where there are no more minorities or discriminations - but only professionals who are experts in their field, without distinction of gender or origin. 


We thank Nadia Busato, who guided us with her professional skill throughout the International Conference as moderator and presenter. 
We thank all the speakers who contributed with their enriching and stimulating experiences and points of view. 
We would like to thank the Orga Team that made all this possible: EWMD Italy Presidents Renata Pelati and Laura Dalè, EWMD La Spezia President Franca Guidotti, the Communication Team composed by Daniela Ballarini, Naike Mulas, Roberta De Simone, Roberta Castagnetti, the International Presidents Nadine Nembach and Paola Ligabue, the International Support Team Beatrice Lusetti and Ariane Heim
We would also like to thank the institutions that participated in the International Conference: the Mayor of La Spezia Pierluigi Peracchini, Francesca Bagni Cipriani National Councillor of Equality and Brando Benifei Representative of the European Parliament.