Inspire! with Chiara Bardelli: Just Look Around

no picture Secondary high school student
Member since December 2, 2015
  • 12 Posts
  • Age 19

“Who inspires me?” This question has been ringing in my ears for the last couple of weeks. I have racked my heart and brains to find the perfect answer. I spent days and days thinking about who I could interview and was searching for the person who inspires me the most. And despite all the thinking, despite all the effort, I didn't have the faintest idea.

But then something crossed my mind. I had been focusing on important, remarkable people I know, but none of them really inspired me. And then I realized: how can you be inspired by someone you have only heard of? So I understood that what they say is true: sometimes, the things you are looking for are right under your nose. You just have to look around you.

And this is what I did. I have finally decided who I want to interview - my sister. Chiara is a 24- year-old university student in Italy. She got her first degree in Engineering last year and now she is pursuing her graduate degree.

Although I have known her for my entire life, it was such an interesting and slightly bizarre moment when I asked her a couple of questions about herself. Here is what she replied.

Engineering is said to be a man-only profession. What is it like working and studying with so many men?

First of all, you have to cope with a discriminatory treatment both from your teachers and your peers. As for the teachers, they tend to underestimate female students, as though they weren't as trustworthy as the male ones. If you are a woman it means that you are not taken into account and your opinion does not count as much as a man's. Fortunately, some teachers don't behave this way, which is good, but they might praise your physical appearance. This is very annoying and frustrating, for it seems you pass your exams just thanks to the way you look, and not based on your real capacities.

Concerning your male peers, some of them are perfectly fine with you being a woman, but some still don't trust you. They generally change their mind after getting to know you better, but at first sight they'd rather work with a man and not with a woman.

Do you think that being a woman will ever be a liability in your career?

Yes, I do think so. Sometimes in our job you have to make your opinion clearly known to others. Sometimes you have to supervise a group of labourers or employees. Imposing yourself on a batch of people requires authority and in some cases, it can be pretty difficult to be respected and listened to. Even men struggle to be in charge of large groups. If you are a woman, it gets 10 times harder because you are not given the same value. Your voice is not that important, especially to uneducated people or people who come from patriarchal backgrounds. This is why it is crucial to earn the respect and appreciation of your coworkers.

You have been studying hard for several years. Where do you find the inspiration and the strength to carry on?

Well it is a constant challenge. First off, I am always motivated by my previous achievements. I have come a long way from where I started and looking back at all the obstacles I overcame gives me the strength to keep going. Passing an exam after many months of hard work is rewarding for me. It proves that my efforts are finally being repaid. But it is not enough. I always keep on chasing my dream, which is getting to do the job I have always wanted to do and thrive professionally.

Personally, I don't just want to be a housewife. For me it is not a defeat, but rather one aspect of a woman’s life. I think that giving birth to a child or getting married are some of the most beautiful moments in a woman's life for sure, but they are not the best one because they are shared with someone else. And a woman deserves a moment which is all hers.

So these are the most significant answers Chiara provided. I think they all convey a message of hope and inspiration. If you fight to prove that discrimination is wrong, if you don't give up on your dream and keep pursuing it, eventually you will be rewarded.

Women and men alike should be free to pursue whatever career they want, regardless of their gender or of general discrimination. Let's work together – the wind of change is finally blowing.

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