Marta Bicho: "Gender diversity allows higher education institutions to develop faster"
8 março 2024
On International Women's Day, we take a closer look at the life of Marta Bicho, director of IPAM Lisboa. As a female leader, Marta has played a crucial role in promoting gender equality and empowering women in the academic and business world. In this interview, we get to know Marta's journey better, and explore her experiences, insights and perspectives on the challenges and achievements of women in contemporary society.

What was your professional and academic career like until you became director of IPAM Lisboa?

My dream was to be a dancer, and for many years that was my focus. When I decided not to follow this dream, I pursued a career in the arts for a few years, particularly in the world of advertising and television.

I graduated in Business Management (Bachelor's and Master's) and it was a natural choice for me, as I have always considered management to be a fundamental skill and knowledge for the evolution of the economy and societies, and because my family owned several companies and I have always been connected to the business world in this way.

When I finished my degree, I started working at inSoul, a company dedicated to personal and professional development training and organizational consultancy. My tasks included client management and communication management, and later training.

The academic area came about by chance, while I was studying for my Master's degree. I applied for a job as a research assistant, just for the experience, and with a 3-month deadline, which turned out to be 2 years. It was here that I discovered my taste and desire to pursue an academic career. I can say that academia chose me!

At the same time as studying for a PhD in Marketing, I taught and never lost my connection with companies. I was involved with various public and private higher education institutions until I settled at IPAM Lisboa. At the same time, I mentored social projects at the Institute of Social Entrepreneurship - Social Business School | IES-SBS, as well as numerous volunteer projects and community liaison projects to which I am still connected.

At IPAM Lisboa my path has been one of constant evolution, from the role of teacher, chair of the teaching council, director of the Marketing Management degree, culminating three years ago in the role of director of IPAM Lisboa, which I took on at the age of 34. It's been a challenging but very rewarding path, as I've had the opportunity to get my hands dirty and put my skills at the service of education in higher education.

What have been the main challenges and achievements along the way?

Reconciliation has been the main challenge. Reconciling people, projects, objectives and the various areas of life. We are systemic beings, with multiple realities, and balance is fundamental. That's why the main achievement has been balance and evolution, because in order to be able to reconcile I've had to learn new practices, tools and change my mentality.

How do you see the role of women in leadership positions, especially in Education and Higher Education?

I believe that women's characteristics play an important role in the leadership of organizational systems and, in particular, in the area of Education and Higher Education.

Female leadership is characterized as more empathetic, flexible and assertive, in other words, the natural characteristics of a woman applied to the role she plays as a leader.

In the family, women have historically been the main educators, so bringing this knowledge to higher education is crucial for the strategic development and evolution of the offer and methodologies used in higher education, with a direct impact on the progress of societies and adaptation to new cultural, social, economic and political realities.

What are the main values and principles you uphold in academic management and how do these reflect your personal and professional career?

The main values and principles are the same ones that guide me as a person and as a professional: fairness, empathy, intuition, flexibility, a positive and constructive sense and energy.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women in leadership positions in higher education institutions? How do you overcome them?

In my opinion, the challenges faced by women in leadership positions in higher education institutions lie in the constant renewal that is necessary in order to respond to current and future challenges, and at the same time correspond to the current system and requirements, which don't always keep up with the need for innovation and updating, either of curricula or of the dynamics present in higher education institutions. The challenge is therefore permanent, between adapting and differentiating and anticipating trends and knowledge of professions that may not even exist yet.

What impact does gender diversity have on the dynamics and performance of higher education institutions?

Gender diversity brings heterogeneity and allows higher education institutions to develop more quickly. Bringing different perspectives, visions, always with the common purpose as a principle is essential, in my opinion, and certainly allows us to go further.

The dynamics and performance of higher education institutions is greater when each person is aware of the role they play in the institution's purpose. Naturally, this requires awareness, collaboration, cooperation and mutual respect.

How do you see the role of education in promoting gender equality and combating sexism in society? What are IPAM Lisboa's initiatives in this regard?

Education plays a fundamental role in transmitting knowledge and demystifying essential issues. I believe that education in this context should be seen in a broad context - education comes from within the family, and is rooted in cultural and social systems, and in family and life experiences. In this way, I think that education and, in the case of higher education, through research and teaching, has an inherent responsibility to create and disseminate knowledge with regard to the principles of gender equity. At IPAM Lisboa there are equal opportunities, based on the principles of talent.

What is the transformative potential of women in building a more just and equitable world?

The transformative potential of women in building a more just and equitable world is enormous. Their inherent characteristics, such as empathy, intuition, assertiveness, flexibility, the ability to think quickly and multifocally, as well as awareness and management of emotions, when directed towards human development, have this transformative potential.

Women can build a fairer and more equitable world by being the best example, without fear of being vulnerable or imperfect.

Joana chose IPAM at Futurália: "Your journey can be as rewarding as mine"
18 março 2024
Read more
Marta Bicho: "Gender diversity allows higher education institutions to develop faster"
8 março 2024
Read more
Lisbon: +351 210 205 702Porto: +351 220 280 502Online: +351 210 205 702