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“Women are able to deal with several issues at the same time”

To mark Women's Day, MIRANTE did not look for makeup tips or information on cooking classes. We searched for examples of life and work with four female entrepreneurs in the region who rolled up their sleeves and entered a world still dominated by men. They are not afraid to take chances, they are focused on goals and determined but sometimes, they confess, they have less mental availability and lack time. Their justification is that they have more concerns than men.

"I was never afraid to take chances”

Emília Santos is 62 years old, married, has two daughters and four grandchildren. This introduction is valid for a good part of the women we have met, wives, mothers, aunts, grandmothers… the major difference is that 21 years ago she left her job and decided to venture into the business world on her own. Today she owns five MacDonalds stores in Ribatejo and manages close to 300 employees.

“It wasn't exactly an adventure, since franchising already has a support structure that guarantees the entire scope of the business”, she says. “Anyway, I was never afraid to take a chance and maybe this is my male rib,” she confesses with a laugh. Emília highlights the capacity of female multitasking and empathy, "a human component that is increasingly valued in management", she adds.

“There are women who don't want to reach the top”

Owner of six Multiópticas stores in the Middle Tagus region, with a total of 27 employees, Carla Dias Crispim, 45, is also married and mother of three children. When asked about what she thinks about the quota system to ensure that companies have a certain number of female representatives in the top positions, she answers with a question: "What is the top?". For this businesswoman, women should achieve whatever they want, on merit. But notes that there are women who do not want to reach that top. “The freedom that has cost us so much is precisely about that. A woman being able to decide to accompany her children more, not to work full time or even not to have children at all”, she reinforces. The important thing is “to have the right to decide for herself, without being a source of criticism”, she concludes.

"I have to work harder to prove my worth"

In charge of the chair of the board of directors of Borrego Leonor e Irmão, the largest national company for the commercialization of production factors for agriculture, is Paula Borrego, 50, married and the mother of a daughter. She manages three stores and a team of 40 employees. She accompanied her father from a young age and followed his footsteps. The knowledge of customers, the company's potential and the important role it has for Ribatejo's agriculture led her to invest in business continuity, although she feels that, being “in a men’s world”, she has to show that she is a lot better than them to be able to assert herself. Portuguese society still considers that men are more competent. However, an evolution trend is already being felt.

“Women are able to deal with several issues at the same time”

The need to show that she is as good or even better than men, is what leads the notary Salomé Archer Mendes to dedicate more time to work than to family. Divorced, with two young children and living in Benavente, she stresses that women have a mental agility that is a natural skill and that helps her to deal with several situations simultaneously. The demands of contemporary society place women in an increasingly difficult position and they are expected to be professionals, wives, friends, mothers. “We have to be proactive, human, intellectual, cooks, housewives”, says Salomé Mendes. “I have sometimes felt I failed as a mother”, the 45-year-old notary tells us.

“At last year's Carnival parade I told my son that I would see him and I had three deeds that were late that day. When I got there he had already paraded”. It was a lesson, says the former civil servant, who confesses to having always been an entrepreneur and adventurer, with no fear of leaving her comfort zone. “In the past, there were more men than women in the notary services, but today it is precisely the opposite. I think this profession identifies a lot with women, because it deals with the public closely”, says Salomé, adding that today she works only with women. There are five in her registry. "We are much faster at resolving work situations, more intuitive and dedicated", she stresses.

How do you reconcile work with motherhood and housework?

Although there is, even if unconsciously, a definition of social roles attributed to men and women, our interviewees reveal that fortunately there is already a positive trend in the evolution of mentalities, especially in urban areas.

“It is possible to reconcile everything if it is clear that family life and professional life are equally important. Having a partner who assumes that the tasks belong to both is also a great help ”, says Emília Santos.

Carla, Emília, Paula and Salomé guarantee in unison that the genesis for a culture that promotes gender equality is upbringing. “Upbringing is not teaching, it is not done in school, but within the family, it is necessary to raise for equality and respect for the other”, says Carla Crispim.

“In education there is no discrimination, there are even more women with degrees and doctorates than men. Why women don't get to top positions ... I don't know, it doesn't make sense. There are some organizations that aim at supporting female entrepreneurship, perhaps that is the way, by supporting, as is already the case for young entrepreneurs” says Emília Santos, who recently acquired the MacDonalds restaurants in Tomar and Torres Novas, joining them to the three establishments already owned in Santarém, Carregado and Porto Alto.

Carla Crispim confesses that, at least when her children were younger, she lived very difficult times.

Portugal is a good country for women entrepreneurs

According to a 2018 study by the Mastercard Index, which looks at female entrepreneurship, Portugal is the sixth best country in the world for women entrepreneurs. The best opportunities and support conditions for women entrepreneurs in 57 countries were analyzed and Portugal stood out ahead of nations such as Australia, Belgium, the Philippines, the United Kingdom and Singapore.

Gender bias was pointed out, both in emerging and developed markets, as the main obstacle to female entrepreneurship, with the perception of inequality leading to a lack of self-confidence, low social acceptance and sometimes difficulty in accessing finance with banking institutions.

Our interviewees revealed that they never experienced difficulties in accessing capital. Carla Crispim says that “when you have merit and you do a good job, the bank is available to support you”. Emília Santos confirms that access to capital is equal. "I never had any kind of difficulty, it is clear that I also had a very big brand behind it, but I believe it is a question of quality and viability of the project and not of gender".

News extracted in full from the newspaper "O Mirante"

Notícia extraída na íntegra do jornal "O Mirante"

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