Women & Money, the most concrete face of gender (dis)parity

Full-Time MBA


Milano, 19 March 2019
Those who think that March 8, International Women’s Day, is just a day for formal statements of principles should have been at the Women & Money event jointly organized on that date by three SDA Bocconi’s Master Student Clubs (ETHICA, Luxury&Arts e Finance). From the very first minute they would have realized that the meeting between four female managers and an audience of young participants – mostly women – in the Full-Time MBA and other Master programs of the School wasn’t at all vague and abstract: the issues on the table – as the title itself promised – were concretely related to business and employment relationships. Chiara Berlendi of Badenoch & Clark, Ilaria Bertizzolo of NatWest, Gini Dupasquier of DonnaLab, and Tiziana Bocus of Allianz Bank were there to deal with these issues from their different points of view, as well as from their different professional experiences – just to wipe out the cliché that women “think as one”. Moderating the discussion, with passion, Żaneta Motkowicz, Career Development Counselor at SDA Bocconi.


Making money and Managing money: two perspectives on something which is often experienced as “too tough” by women, or rather by the creeping and widespread mindset – a mix of discrimination and paternalism – that confines women to other areas of expertise. Thus not easily accepting any trespassing in the male realm of pay negotiations and financial management. “Women themselves often find it hard to make questions about pay increases, bonuses and other economic incentives. Unfortunately, money is still a strong taboo for many of us ,” Bertizzolo acknowledges.


In terms of salaries, transparency is a card that many companies are playing to prove that there is no gender pay gap. “It may be a positive trend,” Dupasquier approves, “but let’s be careful and not be naive: companies often show wages at entry level; these are generally not a problem, because at this stage salaries are equal. The gap arises during one’s career.” “A difference that can even reach 30-40% at top levels,” Bocus adds. But the gap has also another, and less visible, dimension,: “A woman has to stay in a position longer than a man before she is considered eligible for promotion.”


“We don’t make it a discussion on gender but a discussion on talent,” reiterates Berlendi. “Men don’t work better than we do, but they are better in selling what they have achieved. Even when we know we’ve had good results, we sit there and wait for someone else to notice it.” Another speaker adds: “It is called Hermione Syndrome, Harry Potter’s friend”. After all, statistics confirm this position: “If women make up more than half of the population and graduates, why shouldn’t there be the same proportion in companies’ top management?” And the advice to the girls in the audience recalls the irony and strength of certain claims: “Well-behaved women don’t make history: don’t be shy!”


SDA Bocconi School of Management

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