To What Degree Are Women Kept from Management Positions by Lack of Work-Family Balance Policies?

20 Dec 2018

MICS grant recipient María Barraza believes business models impact social development. She will research how corporate policies in her home country of Mexico hinder the professional development of women.

Tell us something about the topics you are interested in.

I think that research in the field of social sciences can help us understand our society’s needs and analyze how to provide solutions to tackle social problems. I believe that enterprises in our current world have the power to create a better future. Therefore, I would like to do an interdisciplinary study regarding how the private sector, as social institutions, can tackle severe social problems. I am interested in research projects about how business models can be developed to address social problems like poverty, social inequality and the empowerment of women.

My project will contribute to a diagnosis of the internal work-family balance policies faced by Mexican women in management positions. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Mexican women still face barriers that impede their full participation in the professional realm, like, for example: the burden of unpaid work; traditional gender roles and the lack of work-family balance policies. Their situation is worse in comparison to what has been achieved in many other countries. 

The study starts from the hypothesis that current policies are insufficient to allow women’s full professional development, and seeks to determine the degree and manner on which this situation has been an impediment. Through interviews and surveys, I hope to be able to paint a picture of how businesses are falling short in developing best practices for women’s growth in managerial positions.

Why did you choose this program in particular?

Before the Master’s in Social Science Research program (MICS in its Spanish acronym), I majored in Humanities and Social Studies at the Universidad de Monterrey. The program helped me understand different perspectives about how our social context is structured as well as to analyze problems and situations through different points of view. I had the opportunity to work with professors in different research studies, and I discovered how much I enjoyed the field of investigation.

After University I worked at a venture capital firm in Mexico that works with entrepreneurs and companies to provide solutions to the needs of the emerging middle class. This experience gave me a comprehensive view of how business models can work towards social development. Also while there, I witnessed firsthand how few women there were in decision-making positions. Only 16% of Mexican capital firms have even one woman on their investment team. This contributed to a personal concern that contributed to my choice of study project.

I wanted to study a program within the social sciences that had a multidisciplinary approach and provided me with the best training for a career in research. I believe that the Universidad of Navarra’s MICS is a very complete program that gives you both the theoretical and methodological tools that are solid bases for social analysis.

A close friend of mine had recently studied at the University of Navarra in Pamplona. He told me about a research center, the Institute for Culture and Society, that had some lines of research regarding poverty and social development, and had a master’s program that could fit with my area of research interest.How did you hear about the MICS?

How has your experience been so far?

I am beyond grateful for my experience in the MICS. One of the things I like most is the interdisciplinary structure of the courses, which makes it a very enriching program. I chose the itinerary in geo-demography which has helped me analyze, through different quantitative and qualitative perspectives, aspects of social realities.

I would also say, one of the best things about my experience at the University of Navarra has been the people I have met and all of the encouraging lessons they have taught me. The MICS professors are widely recognized academics, whose knowledge and expertise have exceeded my expectations by far. And my classmates, with whom the experience in the classroom has been a multicultural, intellectual, analytical and joyful learning experience. For all of this, and more, I am very grateful to Social Trends Institute for giving me the opportunity to study in this program.