Scholar of diversity

Scholar of diversity


Bocconi was very different in 1995, when Paola Profeta got her economics degree. She then pursued her PhD at Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona and went to work on her dissertation at Columbia University in New York. She’s just been appointed as the new Bocconi Dean for Diversity, Inclusion and Sustainability, adding to her academic duties as Full Professor at the Department of Social and Political Sciences. “When I did the DES program in economics and social science, the quality of the students was very high and there was no difference between male and female students. I felt we lacked a female role model in the faculty that could inspire us, though". A role model she certainly is today for the women who study at Bocconi. A lot of water has passed under the bridge and things have changed radically, even if a lot remains to be done, inside Bocconi and outside. And Paola Profeta, for years, has done a lot on the issue of gender inequality. "My area of research has always been public economics", she says, "I came to gender issues later, in particular starting from the female labor market and policies to improve the situation". And not only in the academic field, because Paola Profeta has carried on her battle for gender equality by sitting on various boards and collaborating with the ministry, international organizations, and private companies, always in a technical role. "Things have improved a lot in recent years, even within the University, thanks to the commitment of some of us and the support of the Bocconi board. But the external context has also changed significantly, since now diversity has become an important indicator also for companies”, continues Paola Profeta. “At Bocconi, for example, we have introduced gender and diversity issues also in our courses, and we will go more and more in this direction. Another area in which I will be involved together with the Dean of the Faculty is that of careers for women professors”. When she enrolled at Bocconi, the choice of DES was due to its strong quantitative component combined with an attention to social dynamics. Only towards the end of her university studies she came around the idea of ​​an academic career. But there was that memory of her aspirations as a little girl: "As a child my dream was to teach, I saw myself in the role of school teacher. In the end, the dream came true, in fact I would say it turned out to be even better in reality".

by Davide Ripamonti
Translated by Alex Foti

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