Máire Geoghegan-Quinn : "I don't think Brussels is more "macho" than Bordeaux, Berlin, Bratislava or Birmingham ! "

Second volet de notre série « Drôles de dames » avec Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, 59 ans, Irlandaise bon teint et institutrice de formation, qui est devenue Commissaire chargée de la recherche et de l'innovation.

Does the fact that you are a woman play a role in your daily job as a commissioner? In what sense?

Obviously women and men are not the same - so yes, it does. I think women tend to be better at combining defending strongly their own position with continuing to work together in cooperation, and that is very much my approach. You get nothing done in Europe on your own. Women are also very good at multi-tasking - doing lots of things at once and organising their time effectively: after all, many of us have had to combine demanding jobs with the demands of small children ! But one cannot generalise - I have worked well with many male politicians and they are not all macho men!

With only 9 women appointed as commissioner, the parity men/women is far from being respected in the Barroso Commission II. Why? How is it possible that there are so few women at the top of the EU job?

There are more women members nominated to this new Commission than any previous one. President Barroso fought for that and has a strong personal commitment to equal opportunities at all levels. The Commission has also made progress with recruiting women officials to senior management. I think the continuing imbalance simply reflects the fact that Europe and the world in general have more progress to make where equal opportunities for women are concerned. That is true across society and not just in politics.

Do you think that EU institutions could be qualified as "macho" ? Did you have any problem during your career to impose yourself?

I am quite good at imposing myself, otherwise I would not have survived 22 years in politics! But you do not do that by shouting and stamping your feet, or being more macho than the men. There are certainly obstacles to women in the EU institutions, as there are everywhere else. Working hours, glass ceilings, etc. But I don't think Brussels is more "macho" than Bordeaux, Berlin, Bratislava or Birmingham!

If you could change something in the EU, what would it be?

I think I can change something! We need more women scientists, for example, and I am in a position to promote that. More generally, at the end of my five years here, I aim to have contributed to a more innovative culture in Europe, to creating what I have called an "i-conomy". I'll only make progress by working with many other people, both women and men - fellow Commissioners, MEPs, scientists, business leaders - and also by listening to ordinary Europeans. But I think together we'll make a difference.

If you could define Europe in 3 words?

Peace, prosperity, diversity.

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