In this new interview of our series 'Women and Water', Lídia Piqué, Director General of the TecnoConverting Engineering Group tells us about her vision of the gender gap in the water sector.
Question: First, we would like to know in detail about your career path up to your current position.
Answer: I completed most of my education at the University of Barcelona, studying business administration and marketing. After working at the family company for several years, at 23 years old I became manager of a company that built storage tanks in Barcelona, until the company merged with TecnoConverting Engineering. Our company had the tools, machinery and professional technicians to work with carbon steel and stainless steel, whereas TecnoConverting Engineering had the engineering knowledge and R&D concerning water treatment, so merging was a perfect solution to continue building the equipment we designed in-house.
There are increasingly more women engineers, as well as heads of plants
Currently I am the Director General of the TecnoConverting Engineering Group, which has subsidiaries in Portugal and France.
Q: In the water sector we continue to see an important gender gap. Why do you think this is?
A: The truth is personally I have not felt that gap so much. There are increasingly more women engineers, as well as heads of plants. And there are increasingly more men in purchasing, logistics or administration departments. Maybe I see more of a gender gap in senior management positions, but I have not felt that because of being a women I was treated condescendingly or differently from my male colleagues. Of course, that is just my personal experience.
Q: Does Tecnoconverting have any programmes and/or tools to foster equality, aimed to bridge the gender gap?
A: I think that modern, innovative and international companies, such as Tecnoconverting Engineering, value and respect each person according to his/her contributions and professionalism. Therefore, we do not have any programmes in place, because we are very clear about our values in this regard.
There are still many companies and sectors with conventional values that should probably consider measures to make some progress and become a more gender-balanced company
Q: What other measures (aside from those contemplated by companies) would be, in your view, effective to reach parity in the water sector?
A: Obviously, sexism is widespread in our society, and surely there are still many companies and sectors with conventional values that should probably consider measures to make some progress and become a more gender-balanced company. In my experience, I have not seen so much inequality in the water sector. Also, I believe that it is difficult for some companies with this type of mentality to become more forward-thinking, because national regulations are already setting some differences, for example with regards to remuneration, among others.
Q: Now let us talk about your experience, what difficulties have you faced in your career because you are a woman?
A: Maybe when I was the manager of the company that built storage tanks I encountered certain situations. Because it is a male dominated world, just because I was a woman and I was young, some clients tested my professionalism, and I had to make a greater effort to justify my knowledge than if I had been a man. At the end, they are specific situations and you cannot let them affect you. You always have to be a professional.
Q: Are there any other pressing challenges that you think need to be addressed in the sector?
I think people should be judged by their knowledge and their contribution to projects, not by their gender
A: In the water sector, if we talk about other challenges, unrelated to the topic at hand, I think things have evolved in many aspects, but there are always new challenges to overcome. I think that Spanish companies are worldwide leaders in water treatment and we have to continue working hard to stay at the top.
Q: Conversely, what do you think are the main achievements in the sector?
A: For me, respecting your colleagues is an essential value, regardless of whether they are men or women. In my experience, the degree of respect and collaboration in this sector has always been something to be pleased about; I think people should be judged by their knowledge and their contribution to projects, not by their gender.