Women and Work Conference

Below is a selection of papers presented at the Women and Work Conference held in Rome on December 4-5, 2015.

Career and private life: Getting ahead? Holding back? Which equality should we aspire to? Helen Alvaré 

“In the past few weeks, an interview appeared in the leading U.S. newspaper chronicling a conversation between the acknowledged spokeswoman for late 20th Century U.S. feminism – Gloria Steinem – and the most outspoken liberal female member of our Supreme Court – Ruth Bader Ginsburg. No matter what kind of women’s advocate you are, you could find a lot to like in this interview. Both women told stories of how they were underestimated, disrespected, and dismissed – specifically qua women – toward the start of their illustrious careers. They were told that they were less intelligent, that they should stay home with their children and leave the wider world to men, and that every opportunity they seized was an opportunity stolen from a man. The reader cannot help but cheer both women on, as they recount their exploits, which included defeating expectations, manifesting excellence in their chosen field, and putting women’s rights firmly on the map of human rights – even as pro-life women would simultaneously and strongly lament both women’s inclusion of abortion as an essential element of women’s progress.” Download the entire conference paper here.


Motherhood: a burden or added value for a business? Elizabeth Schiltz 

“If we weren’t already convinced before this conference, surely by now there is little doubt about about the urgent need for the insights of the feminine genius in all sectors of society – in the home, surely, but also in our halls of government, our schools and universities, and our businesses. 1 The specific contribution of women may lie in some unique and particular genius, gift, or aptitude. Or it could be, as suggested by Sr. Prudence Allen in her writings on integral complementarity, that it is the synergetic effect of men and women working together that is necessary to generate the most creative, fruitful, successful approaches to contemporary challenges.2 A growing body of evidence from multiple disciplines demonstrates that men and women working together on almost any sort of project tend to reach different – and better — results that either men working alone or women working alone.” Download the entire conference paper here.


Educating girls: feminine genius at the service of humanity. Terry Polakovic

“Pope Saint John Paul II coined the term “feminine genius” and I believe that I first heard of it when I read his June, 1995 Letter to Women. This letter literally changed the trajectory of my life because it led me, along with two other women, to found Endow. As you heard in my introduction, Endow is an acronym for Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women. We develop study materials based on the teachings of the Catholic Church for women and girls to use in small study groups. Since 2003, over 40,000 women and girls from all over the world have participated in the Endow program.” Download the entire conference paper here.


Online seminar Deborah Savage

“It was, apparently, no surprise to anyone that Pope Francis’ recent encyclical, Laudato Si, begins by invoking the image of the earth as feminine. Indeed it seems almost a commonplace, even seamless way to introduce the question of humanity’s responsibility toward creation by reminding us that the earth is “our common home like… a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us.” She offers up her gifts in ways that often go unheralded or unnoticed and we have forgotten, says the Holy Father that “our very bodies are made up of her elements.” In the end, Pope Francis’ vision is of an integral ecology that both serves and is served by that which is authentically human.” Read the entire transcript here.