Women at the centre and in charge of their career with LEI - Center for Women’s Leadership

On December 15th 2017 at the Auditorium Santa Margherita the launch of the LEI - Center for women’s leadership inaugurated a series of initiatives to support and encourage women’s leadership.

As Michele Bugliesi, Rector of Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, highlighted: “Ca’ Foscari is one of the best universities in Italy, with outstanding research and training, which aims at achieving more than its traditional mission: the spirit of secondary education training should go beyond class rooms and be included in university life in general.”

The LEI (Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Improvement) project was developed from these observations. Its unique and innovative approach dedicated to students enroled at Ca’ Foscari and to any young women emerged in the Career Service to increase the job offers promoted in the seminars ‘Women&Business’ offering labs, seminars and mentorship activities carried out in collaboration with female entrepreneurs and managers.

Traditionally, three types of leaders are considered: authoritarian, lax and democratic leadership. A fourth one should be added: female leadership.
Female leadership is still little explored and difficult to study, even though society has shown growing interest in it. Based on recent research female leaders have to face greater challenges than their male colleagues. Throughout their careers they often had to accept disadvantaged positions because of cultural preconceived ideas and prejudices or to work below their capacity and therefore not being able to explore and improve their skills.

However research has observed how women in positions of leadership show more empathy and adaptability, and are in touch with their emotions. A study conducted by the Ca’ Foscari Competency Centre (320 participants with an average age of 25, 73% of which are women) highlights how women have significantly better social skills such as empathy, development of others, customer orientation and integrity. These interpersonal skills are essential in life and in working environments as they allow young women to understand and share their colleagues’ feelings maintaining a rational approach, and to encourage collaboration and listening.

The Ca’ Foscari Competency Centre will organize the ELLE lab (Emotional Leadership Lab for Excellence) as part of the LEI initiatives to enable young women and especially Ca’ Foscari students to identify and develop their leadership abilities.

Ca’ Foscari commits to: promoting leadership skills and women’s employability, spreading female corporate culture, supporting entrepreneurial spirit, reducing the gender pay gap and encouraging women in STEM. To reach such goals a website was created (in Italian) showing the faces and stories of many different women.

The role of one’s experience emerged at the inauguration of the Centre for Woman’s Leadership, with the stories of three exceptional women: Monica Boccanegra, president of Ca’ Foscari Alumni, Sandra Mori, president of Valore D, and Anna Puccio, secretary general Fondazione Italiana Accenture, moderated by Alessandra Cravetto, journalist. Three profiles emerged proving that women can completely commit themselves to very diverse activities.

That is why feminine nature should be enhanced and not become a career obstacle. According to Arianna Cattarin, director of the Career Office, “a community, a network that brings women together was created to develop projects of shared interest. Action for women’s entrepreneurship must be specific and characterized by a mentorship relationship between female entrepreneurs and students going beyond mere formal meetings. A female entrepreneur will become a younger woman’s angel, providing her with support and suggestions to enter the workforce. Thinking about and studying woman is the starting point of a project that may go beyond the university with tangible benefits.”

Charlotte Gandi