NAME: Paola Pepe
ACTION/SECTOR: Health, Research, Science, Tecnology
POSITION: Building Engineer
My Background and Career
My father was an engineer and now is retired. He directed the Department of Transportation of Provincial Council in Bari for 40 years.
I had a scientific background and I embarked on an academic career in the field of construction, rather than in the field of transport as my father would have wanted .
I have always worked as a self employed professional, partly thanks to the teachings of my fathe, who has always wanted me to be free and indipendent. According to him, these values were fundamental to “his little female engineer”.
My father taught me to not have to depend on anybody and it was not difficult for me “to implement his project”. For this reason, I embarked on a career as a selfemployed engineer, and I had the opportunity to manage my time and my energy much better than if I had embarked on a career as an employee.
From the beginning of my professional career I have lived close the to the building yard and I deepened my academic training (even when the training was not mandatory) in the field of static consolidation of historical buildings and site safety.
At the same time, I took part in public tenders, that led me to enlarge the sphere of personal and professional knowledge, allowing me to expand my skills in the wider field of regeneration and urban renewal.
During my academic career, my encounter with two great masters and famous architects, Francesco Moschini and Salvatore Polito, was crucial. They were able to transmit their emotion and curiosity for this profession to me as I moved the first steps in the world of technical and architectural knowledge.
Since the early academic years, following the footsteps of my father, I enrolled in the Regional Association of Engineers and Architects of Puglia (ARIAP), and today I am councillor in this association.
Since 2006, when I started approaching gender issues, I met another prestigious association: the Italian Association of Women Engineers and Architects (AIDIA), for whom I served as treasurer in the Territorial Section of Bari. From 2009 until 2013 I was President of the Equal Opportunities Commission of the Engineers Order, parallel to my commitments with AIDIA. Since 2012, however, I have been the National President of AIDIA, and am currently serving my second term. Members of AIDIA include women who are well respected at both the national and international level, and I am honored to be the President of this association. In recent years, however, there has been a real institutional recognition of our association, as it has been called to participate in discussion groups and initiatives organised by the National Council of Engineers and the National Council of Architects .
The skills that have supported me during my career and that allowed me to achieve my goals were definitely: a strong team spirit, which has allowed me to create professional and personal networks, and the independence that has always characterized me and the passion for my work.
These personal characteristics then came to blend well with the mission of AIDIA. The role that the members play in AIDIA, combining the professional and personal needs, is a highly educational role; in fact educating, training, and raising awareness of gender issues in the field of technical professions, arts and sciences, are the main objectives of our association. Gender disparities do not have latitude: the phenomenon is culturally inherent, unfortunately, in our society and we must address it with the commitment of all of us.
Hints & Tips
I can synthesize the advices that may come from my experience to young women who are entering the world of work, in a provocative question: Why not ? Why not?
Why should a woman not be in the workforce today, especially in the field of engineering, which is considered a male domain?
The provocation is not mine, but actually comes from an excellent colleague, Professor Amalia Finzi, who works at the Department of Aerospace Engineering of Politecnic of Milan.
I admire her personal and professional path, and I try to do my best in life. However it would not be possible for me to be a good wife, mother and engineer if it wasn't for "The law of the three metals": an iron health, nerves of steel, and gold husband.
Needless to say, this "law" is signed by Amalia Finzi.