Maria Angelica: A Holistic and Integrative Vision Allowed Me to Position Myself as a Leader

A mixture of personal and professional characteristics led Maria Angelica to a career in Civil Hydraulic Engineering: “On the personal side, a strength of character combined with a dose of rebellion and of not accepting the status-quo just because it is what it is. Professionally, something that brings a sense of strength is talent combined with a great technical capacity and professional training. With these characteristics it is less complicated to position yourself as a woman leader because it also allows you to disrupt sexist and discriminatory biases in the water sector.” In celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD2020), Maria Angelica shares her career story.

As a Civil Hydraulic Engineer my work has been focused mainly in the area of strategic management, which has of course included social and cultural issues. In the development of these activities, a holistic and integrative vision has allowed me to position myself in leadership situations. This is because in situations that try to maintain the status quo based on wrong foundations or inaccurate reasoning from other professionals, I have been relentless to impose objective, quantitative and, above all, founded and justified analysis.

Another important aspect regarding leadership is that there are different ways of using it as a woman. I believe the contribution of a woman leader in her area of expertise and work comes with a more horizontal, open and dialogic approach. This sometimes poses difficulties to establish hierarchical relationships. However, we cannot let the latter be an issue, otherwise the patriarchal model and top-down model will be replicated, preventing the exercise in the development of ideas, opinion and contribution of people. 

It is a complex issue which still faces great challenges. Early education is particularly important, and from early age, both genders should be educated as equals, recognizing their particularities but without inhibiting their potential. All people are different but that does not mean that we do not have great capabilities to develop, in different areas, each one contributes from their perspective and understanding, so all positions and opinions are always respectable. For women personal training should be intensified in the sense that there are no barriers to what they want to do or undertake, that they can dream and dare to things, even though seen as bold. If they persist, they will achieve it. Women entrepreneurs, professionals, scientists, technicians, grassroots leaders, educators, and politicians are also needed, although in the latter there must be a new way of doing politics. As a Chilean, I must say that the social outbreak in my country in October 2019, showed the bad shape of the political sectors, without any credibility or trust on the part of the citizens.

Finally, I believe that empowerment does not reach women and girls because a state or a country determines it. It happens – again referring to the social outbreak of Chile – because of the struggle of the women themselves who must break schemes and seize a liberation movement that really promotes changes.

Photo: Maria Angelica