Recently, it seems that everywhere I look I’m bombarded by adverts for a ‘Roundtable meeting with the Government of Malta‘ organized by The Economist. It is being held in a week’s time at the Hilton, and looks like it will tackle a few interesting topics and it’s great to see such engagement from the present Government.
Going through the list of speakers however I was struck by one glaring thing. Out of the 56 confirmed speakers, only 1 is a woman. Worse yet, there is no female Maltese speaker at this event as the only female speaker is Anna Diamantopoulou, a former European Commissioner from Greece.
Is this just an unfortunate coincidence or is it possible that even though we’re in the 21st century, locally we still have this idea that women and business shouldn’t mix?
What I am really worried about is the kind of message this sends. A Roundtable meeting with the Government of Malta discussing Invigorating Investment and Growth and the female representation is just a token and almost nonexistent. Just for a visual representation, this is how the whole speaker list looks like.
Many might think I’m making an issue when there shouldn’t be one, but think about it – what does it say about us as a country, when a high profile event such as this one is completely devoid of a local female speaker?
The concept of token females on the boards of government entities disturbs me and I was never a fan of positive discrimination. Back in 2012, when Vivienne Reading set aggressive targets for women on boards of public companies I cringed. To me, this was somehow saying that women are not recognized as competent decision makers and cannot make on their own merits and legislation is needed to make this happen.
Seeing the above example I feel like I was wrong in my line of thought. There needs to be a system which ensures that capable women are given a fair chance to attain decision making positions because many of us are still predisposed to a more patriarchal system and appointing women to boards still feels like it’s not the natural thing to do or that it should be a mere token representation.
On a more positive note, the European Commission today released a press release about the Gender Pay Gap in the EU. Malta holds the second place of lowest pay gap, just after Slovenia at 6.1%. Even though the number should be 0% this is something we should be proud of as a country.