Women in charge talk about gen­der roles

Kyiv Post - - Lifestyle - BY MARIYA KAPINOS [email protected]

Ed­i­tor’s Note: This ar­ti­cle is a part of the “Jour­nal­ism of Tol­er­ance” project by the Kyiv Post and its af­fil­i­ated non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion, the Me­dia De­vel­op­ment Foun­da­tion. The project cov­ers chal­lenges faced by sex­ual, eth­nic and other mi­nori­ties in Ukraine, as well as peo­ple with phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties and those liv­ing in poverty. This project is made pos­si­ble by the sup­port of the Amer­i­can peo­ple through the U. S. Agency for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment and In­ternews. Con­tent is in­de­pen­dent of the donors. So­ci­ety of­ten en­cour­ages women in Ukraine to take the “tra­di­tional val­ues” path in life: Get mar­ried, have chil­dren and take care of their bread­win­ning hus­bands.

Those who choose to live dif­fer- ently, of­ten in­de­pen­dently, en­counter judg­men­tal at­ti­tudes or worse.

When An­ton Gerashchen­ko, an ad­vi­sor to Ukraine’s In­te­rior Min­istry, in a 2016 in­ter­view with Kor­re­spon­dent news web­site was asked about ex-mil­i­tary pi­lot Nadiya Savchenko’s po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, he said that she should “take care of her per­sonal life and start a fam­ily.”

In­deed, this is what many Ukrainian women choose to do.

Ac­cord­ing to the State Statis­tics Ser­vice of Ukraine, as many as 45 per­cent of Ukrainian women (6.8 mil­lion) aged 15-70 years were un­em­ployed in the first quar­ter of 2016. For men, this in­dex was lower – only 35 per­cent of men from this age group (4.3 mil­lion) did not have jobs at the same pe­riod.

But even when a Ukrainian woman works, she is of­ten un­der- paid, earn­ing 35.6 per­cent less than men.

Still, not every­one thinks there is a prob­lem.

A 2016 opin­ion poll by Razumkov Cen­ter, a Kyiv-based think tank, re­vealed that 48 per­cent of women and 52 per­cent of men do not be­lieve that gen­der dis­crim­i­na­tion ex­ists in Ukraine.

The Kyiv Post talked to four suc­cess­ful Ukrainian women about their jour­neys.

Nina Kury­ata: “A man would al­ways ask for more money.”

This woman re­mem­bers the time when she was hold­ing her baby in one hand and mak­ing calls to po­lit­i­cal ex­perts with an­other while also cook­ing soup. These ef­forts paid off: To­day Nina Kury­ata, 39, is an ed­i­tor-in-chief at BBC Ukraine.

She is proud to say that gen­der is not an is­sue at the BBC: Here, no one will ask a po­ten­tial em­ployee how many chil­dren he or she has and if there is some­one to watch them while par­ents are at work.

Kury­ata has been work­ing at BBC since 2011. Be­fore that, she was a po­lit­i­cal jour­nal­ist. In 2008, she was in­ter­view­ing one of the top man­agers of the Na­tional Bank of Ukraine.

“When I came to him, I could im­me­di­ately see his dis­like,” says Kury­ata.

When she asked ques­tions dur­ing an in­ter­view, he would keep re­peat­ing: “If you just knew some­thing about the sub­ject...”

Kury­ata be­lieves it was his misog­yny show­ing.

“In Ukraine, the men in power are not used to women be­ing in charge,” she says.

Kury­ata also notes that male job ap­pli­cants at the BBC of­ten as for more money than women. “When a man comes to BBC for a job in­ter­view, some­times he asks for a big­ger salary than I have,” she says.

If cou­ples share re­spon­si­bilies, Kury­ata says, then women don’t have to choose be­tween work and home.

Ok­sana Sy­roid: “Men com­pete with their bosses, women com­pete with each other.”

She is the first woman to serve as the deputy speaker of Ukraine’s par­lia­ment.

Ok­sana Sy­roid, 41, was raised in a fam­ily where her father adored her mother.

“Thanks to my fam­ily, it never came to my head I would not achieve some­thing be­cause I was a woman,” she told the Kyiv Post on July 7.

She be­lieves that in Ukraine, women are not fight­ing for their rights, but rather are tak­ing them back.

“Dur­ing the Het­man State (16541764), Ukrainian women had the right to in­herit prop­erty,” Sy­roid said. “They didn’t have it in most of the Euro­pean coun­tries. Our women were very in­de­pen­dent.”

Be­ing a su­per­vi­sor to both male and fe­male law­mak­ers, Sy­roid sees the dif­fer­ence in their be­hav­ior.

“Men are try­ing to com­pete with me; women com­pete with each other,” she said. Women, she said, should be more sup­port­ive of each other.

At the same time, Sy­roid wants the so­ci­ety to treat women ac­cord­ing to their achieve­ments, not gen­der, age or out-of-date prej­u­dices.

“I re­mem­ber when in March Natalia Boiko was ap­pointed deputy min­is­ter for Euro­pean in­te­gra­tion, there were so many neg­a­tive com­ments be­cause she was a woman and be­cause she was young,” Sy­roid says.

Sofia Opatska: “Misog­yny of­ten comes from other women.”

Sophia Opatska, 41, is a founder and the dean of Lviv Busi­ness School at the Ukrainian Catholic Univer­sity. She rep­re­sents the west­ern part of Ukraine where, Opatska says, peo­ple “are much more tra­di­tional.”

“In the west of Ukraine, to be suc­cess­ful, a woman has to do ev­ery­thing at once, to suc­ceed both at work and at home,” Opatska told the Kyiv Post. “While for a man it’s enough to have a good job.”

She also noted that if some­thing goes wrong, women tend to blame them­selves while men blame every­body else, in­clud­ing the gov­ern­ment, and “the sys­tem.”

Opatska has two chil­dren and a lov­ing hus­band, and some­times spends seven days a week at work. She also gives lec­tures in Lviv Busi­ness School and says the worst en­vi­ron­ment for a woman lec­turer is pro­grams for women.

“With men, what’s im­por­tant is not to say silly things,” said Opatska. “Women are usu­ally more judg­men­tal.”

Opatska ex­plained that, at the end of ev­ery class, lec­tur­ers ask stu­dents to grade their work, some of the harsh­est crit­i­cism of her comes from other women. “They usu­ally give me lower grades than men,” said Opatska.

Yana Mi­nenko: “Ukrainian Re­nault of­fice has a global rep­u­ta­tion for its women em­ploy­ees.”

Only one of Re­nault car man­u­fac­turer’s 128 global of­fices is run by a woman. Yana Mi­nenko, 37, started to work in Re­nault Group in 2002, slowly ris­ing to the top. In 2014, she be­came Re­nault Ukraine’s gen­eral di­rec­tor.

Dur­ing the in­ter­view with the Kyiv Post on July 13, Mi­nenko called her­self a worka­holic, say­ing that her work de­fines her.

Jan Ptacek, a for­mer gen­eral di­rec­tor of Re­nault Ukraine and Mi­nenko’s ex-boss, once told Mi­nenko that he “used to pro­mote women in Ukraine be­cause here they are more am­bi­tious.”

While Mi­nenko says she has not en­coun­tered gen­der dis­crim­i­na­tion, stereo­types re­main.

In Re­nault of­fice in Kyiv, the pro­por­tion of male and fe­male em­ploy­ees is 50/50, more bal­anced than in other Euro­pean of­fices.

Mi­nenko be­lieves men and women have dif­fer­ent approaches to busi­ness: Women try to sat­isfy every­one, while men are more chal­leng­ing and ar­gu­men­ta­tive. How­ever, Mi­nenko has no doubts that both male and fe­male qual­i­ties are vi­tal for build­ing a pros­per­ous busi­ness.

(Kostyan­tyn Ch­er­nichkin, Oleg Pe­tra­siuk, UNIAN, Cour­tesy)

Left to right: Yana Mi­nenko, gen­eral di­rec­tor of Re­nault Ukraine, Ok­sana Sy­roid, deputy speaker of Ukraine’s par­lia­ment, Sofia Opatska, a founder and the dean of Lviv Busi­ness School at the Ukrainian Catholic Univer­sity, and Nina Kury­ata,...

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