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  • Dancing Backwards

    in High Heels Women, Leadership and Power

  • Dancing Backwards in High Heels

    Women, Leadership and Power

    Virginia García Beaudoux

    To my mother Dora Beaudoux, who imagined me independent

    and encouraged me strongly to be so.

    To Marisa Lorda, the joy and spice of life,

    the better of my mother’s two daughters.

    To my grandmothers “Memé” Carmen Romero and Elsa Greve,

    two brave women who challenged

    the gender stereotypes of their time.

  • Contents

    Acknowledgements 9

    Foreword 13

    1. It’s men who wear the trousers 17 Where are we? 20

    Why are we where we are? 24

    Dancing backwards in high heels 30

    Why do systems work and how well do they work? 32

    What is being done and what else can be done? 33

    2. Damned stereotypes 36 Why what we believe to be “natural” is not “natural” 36

    What are gender stereotypes and why do they matter? 38

    3. Leadership, that old boys’ club 43 Mirrored Stereotypes: Leadership and Masculinity 43

    And how are we doing in the science world? 47

    First edition, April 2017

    Design: Poet Farmer

    © 2017, NIMD, The Hague, The Netherlands – Creative Commons

    You are free to share and make derivative works of this publication only for

    non-commercial purposes and under the conditions that you appropriately

    attribute it to NIMD, and that you distribute it only under a license identical

    to this one. This is a publication of the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty

    Democracy (NIMD).


    4. Ceilings, walls, labyrinths and floors 51 Cultural, psychological and organizational barriers 51

    The Invisible Woman 56

    5. “Are you going to take make-up with you into Space?” 61 Women in the media 61

    How do princesses lead? 66

    The pink tax 69

    “Are you going to take make-up with you into space?” 74

    The portrayal of female politicians in the media 78

    6. Equality, women and power in Sweden and the Netherlands 87 Sweden: much more than IKEA 87

    Starting out the learning journey: the first interview in Stockholm 91

    Interview with Angelica Broman 91

    Second stop: The Gothenburg interviews 94

    Interview with Maria Clara Medina 95

    Interview with Adríán Groglopo 97

    Interview with Tom Böhler 100

    The Netherlands, where equality is not “life through rose-coloured

    glasses” (yet) but more like “life through orange-coloured glasses” 103

    The Academic View 104

    Interview with Ingrid van Biezen 104

    Interview with Corine van Egten 108

    What do female politicians from the Netherlands have to say? 110

    Interview with Sophie in ‘t Veld 111

    Interview with Tamara van Ark 113

    Interview with Nel van Dijk 117

    Interview with Hanja Maij-Weggen 121

    Interview with Kathalijne Buitenweg 125

    Interview with Kathleen Ferrier 131

    Interview with Tineke Huizinga 136

    Interview with Esther de Lange 140

    Interview with Tineke Netelenbos 144

    Interview with Winnie Sorgdrager 148

    What did we learn? 151

    7. What is being done? 154 NIMD in Latin America 155

    NIMD in El Salvador 161

    NIMD in Honduras 168

    NIMD in Guatemala 174

    UNDP in the Dominican Republic 177

    What did we learn? 182

    8. You’ve come a long way, baby. What else can we do? 184 Equality, what equality? 184

    Some useful ideas 186

    Bibliograhpy 205

    Notes 209

    About the author 219

    About NIMD 221

  • 8

    Had it not been for the support of the Netherlands Institute for Mul- tiparty Democracy (NIMD), this book would not have been possible. They gave their best welcome to my proposal. I received all the ne- cessary logistics and economic support to move through each of the required stages, including the financing and publishing of this book. It was, as always, a real pleasure to collaborate and learn with them. They opened doors to me without raising objections and made me feel at home. Organizations are made up of people. In this case it was Heleen Schrooyen, Senior Programme Manager for NIMD in Latin America, whom I asked for help to carry out this project. I owe her its fulfillment. She listened to me the way she always does, she gave me her confidence and great freedom to work. She willingly joined me on this journey with contagious enthusiasm. She embraced my idea and made it her own. We enjoyed sharing our thoughts as we went through this wonderful experience, which involved carrying out in- terviews in her home in the Netherlands. I only have words of ap- preciation for this woman of great worth. I consider myself lucky to



    have met her, to have been able to work together on different projects and, most of all, for the close friendship we have built along the way.

    I owe the publication of this book and its original edition in Spanish to Editorial Grupo 5, the prestigious Spanish editorial. Had it not been for the trust and interest of the editors, Miguel Fernández González, José Francisco Morales Domínguez and Esther López Za- fra, this book would not exist. I thank them for their careful work on its pages and the quality of treatment I received.

    NIMD also gave me the chance to enrich myself by getting to know extraordinary and committed people who act as its representa- tives in Latin America. In Guatemala, Ligia Blanco was a very hospita- ble hostess and efficient work companion. In El Salvador, I was made to feel welcome by the intelligence, warmth and sunny disposition of Patricia Navarro. The boundless generosity and constant support of Miguel Cálix, a priceless friend, in all the adventures we embarked on in Honduras. Also in Honduras I am blessed with the comradeship of Ana López, my dear and cherished friend. I know that they have a heavy workload and I thank them for their time and dedication to tell us about the initiatives that they pursued with NIMD in their respective countries, in order to improve equality for women and the quality of democracy.

    Raissa Crespo, UNDP Gender Officer of the Dominican Repu- blic, is definitely another example of the extraordinary people, per- sonal relationships and friends that my work has presented me with. I thank this intelligent woman and valuable ally for allowing me to be part of her projects, which she coordinates with great conviction. Likewise, I am grateful to her for the long interview she gave me despite her busy schedule.

    The interviews included in this book started in Sweden, in Stock- holm. This was the place where Angelica Broman opened the doors of the Swedish International Development Corporation Agency (Sida) to me. I thank her for having invited me to that thought-provoking place so that I could give a seminar on the importance of women’s political participation. I also thank her for her committed and frank opinions about gender issues in Swedish politics.

    In Gothenburg, I was welcomed by Maria Clara Medina’s warm heart and kind face, a virtuous friend who makes me both think and laugh (a lot!). I owe her not only the time she dedicated - in spite of her academic activities at University of Gothenburg - to share with me her understanding of the current position of women in Swedish politics, but also the time she spent coordinating and making possible the rest of the interviews that I conducted in Gothenburg thanks to her alone.

    Once in the Netherlands, the experts’ voices bore the names of Ingrid van Biezen of the University of Leiden and Corine van Egten who worked at the time of the interview, for the Knowledge Centre for Women History and Emancipation (Atria). Both of them enligh- tened me, in a deep and didactic way, on the unknown aspects of the complex fabric of the social, political and historical processes which account for the “debit and credit” of women’s current situation in the Netherlands. I am very grateful to them for having shared their knowledge with me.

    Ten women who have devoted, and are still devoting, their lives to politics are the undisputed protagonists of this book. In the order in which the interviews were carried out, these women are: Sophie in ’t Veld, Tamara van Ark, Nel van Dijk, Hanja Maij-Weggen, Katha-


    lijne Buitenweg, Kathleen Ferrier, Tineke Huizinga, Esther de Lange, Tineke Netelenbos and Winnie Sorgdrager. Their stories, experien- ces, learnings, insights, thoughts and recommendations form the basis of this work, which wouldn’t exist had it not been for them. I thank them for the courage and sincerity with which they spoke, for their time and patience during the interviews, and for the lucidity and cla- rity with which they introduced me to their world and the situation of women in the Netherlands.

    Since gender issues are human problems and change must involve everyone, otherwise it will not materialiase; I would like to give a special mention to two men who have taken part in and formed part of this project. They are Tom Böhler, Professor of Human Ecology at the School of Global Studies at the University of Gothenburg; and Adrián Groglopo, sociologist, President of the Antiracist Academy of Sweden and Senior Lecturer at the Department of Social Work at the University of Gothenburg. Not only have they contributed with their opinio

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