International Women’s Day: Feminine narratives echo remarkable life stories of FGV professors

“Learning about women’s stories means having a new lens to think about the story of our lives,” says Maria Carolina Medeiros, a professor at FGV ECMI.
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08 三月 2024
International Women’s Day: Feminine narratives echo remarkable life stories of FGV professors

“All victories conceal a sacrifice.” This phrase is from Simone de Beauvoir’s book “Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter.” Although the author released this work back in 1958, women still have to make sacrifices for their achievements today. That’s why today, March 8, International Women’s Day is celebrated. On this day, characterized by the fight for women’s rights, women from various backgrounds who are part of FGV share feminine narratives that resonate across various fields of knowledge, including communication, economics, administration, finance and law.

This year, on March 8, we look at the life stories of:

  • Professor Lilian Furquim, dean of the Sao Paulo School of Economics (FGV EESP);
  • Professor Rogiene Batista of Sao Paulo School of Business Administration (FGV EAESP);
  • Professor Cláudia Yoshinaga of FGV EAESP;
  • Professor Janaína Feijó of the Brazilian School of Economics and Finance (FGV EPGE), who is also a researcher at the Brazilian Institute of Economics (FGV IBRE);
  • Professor Maria Carolina Medeiros of the School of Communication, Media and Information (FGV ECMI).

Lilian Furquim reports that she never felt restricted in her journey, whether in choosing a profession or a sport. “I had a very tomboyish childhood, so I could explore things that normally only boys of my generation would explore,” she emphasizes.

The dean highlights women’s dedication to their families. According to her, some women in her family could have excelled as professionals but chose to dedicate themselves exclusively to the family environment. “The inequality between men and women is still significant. We still have a long way to go to reduce it. This caregiving area is just one of them,” she says.

While Lilian Furquim points to caregiving as one factor behind inequality, Rogiene Batista recounts her extreme struggle due to her background. Her family hadn’t benefited from an education and she grew up with few role models in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods of Salvador. No one else in her family has a degree. Even in this unpromising context, she found strength in her mother.

“At seven years old, I couldn’t read. My teacher didn’t believe in me. But my mother said something that has had a big impact on me, until today: ‘Daughter, you were born to shine and your destiny will be extraordinary.’ And today I’m here,” she says.

Batista had the opportunity to do an undergraduate degree thanks to a full scholarship from Prouni. She then did a specialist diploma  in strategic business management and later worked in the private sector. She then did a master’s and a doctorate at the University of Sao Paulo in Ribeirão Preto. When she moved to the state of Sao Paulo, her long-term goal was to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This dream, which seemed unlikely given her childhood of poverty and trajectory of struggle, became a reality in 2018. In the United States, she had the opportunity to experience an incredible journey with inspiring women. This showed her that nothing is impossible when you are determined to achieve your goals.

“When I look back, I see my mother and my grandmother, who didn’t have opportunities. My grandmother can’t read, and my mother did adult education. And I followed this academic path. What I mean by this is that it’s not just me who was born to shine – you were born to shine too,” she says.

Cláudia Yoshinaga fought to occupy spaces often dominated by men. A professor of finance at FGV EAESP, she says women are not so present in this field, whether in the workplace or in academia. So, in part, her goal is to see more women in these spaces.

“One of the great teachings I received from my mother was to seek financial independence and pursue my goals. This was a great inspiration for me to keep going despite all my struggles. I hope to be an inspiration to students, showing that there are challenges but we are fighting to reduce these inequalities and make a more equal world,” she says.

In addition to Yoshinaga in the field of finance, Maria Carolina Medeiros, a professor at FGV ECMI, reaffirms that her professional life reflects the study of the feminine realm, as a researcher of narratives about women and female socialization. “Who I am professionally is intertwined with who I am in life,” she reiterates.

“My research gives me the benefit of knowing the stories of many women and also allows me to have a broader repertoire to understand the stories of those who are part of my life. So, in line with this idea of sisterhood that we talk so much about, I learned a lot from the research I do and understood how to replicate that in my life,” she says.

Medeiros recounts the lessons received from women as strong points in her life. “We are raised to compete with each other. Female rivalry is not just a figure of speech, and it’s not something we think doesn’t exist, but it’s something that has been ingrained in our heads. It’s a social and cultural construction, so it’s necessary to suppress female rivalry,” she argues.

Challenges for women are not only found in the area of communications. Janaína Feijó says that pursuing an academic career in economics was quite challenging. Opting for a master’s and a doctorate undoubtedly brought many trials, as she had to learn to balance the effort and dedication of study with her personal life. And that’s not easy for a woman.

“Because economics is a predominantly male science, it is very important to see women ascending to managerial positions, leadership roles, reaching strategic positions within companies. This undoubtedly helped me a lot to want to reach where I am today and believe that it is possible,” she says.

Challenges and trials have also been evident for Yasmin Curzi as a professor of law and coordinator of the Diversity and Inclusion Program at the FGV Rio de Janeiro Law School. Passionate about academia, she teaches human rights at the school, where she is also a researcher in the area of technology and gender, conducting research at the intersection of sociology, law and gender studies.

The female story that most mirrors her own and inspires her is that of feminist women who fought for women’s rights. Their stories involve strength and overcoming obstacles. These women broke barriers, overcame gender stereotypes and sought to compete in the public sphere, whether in political institutions or academia, which is still today a largely male-dominated environment.

“These stories have inspired me to try to overcome these gender stereotype barriers and fight them as well. I strive to combat harassment and discrimination in the academic environment, which is what I have been doing in coordinating the diversity program here at FGV,” she concludes.

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