The 2023 edition of the “Osservatorio donne e moda” (Women and Fashion Observatory), an event organised by PwC Italy and Il Foglio della Moda, took place on the 3rd of May at the Spazio Lineapelle in Milan. During the meeting, an update of the study “La moda e il lavoro femminile” (Fashion and women’s work) was presented, to which the main sector associations also contributed, including Assocalzaturifici, which was represented at the meeting by the president Giovanna Ceolini. For the sector and for the president herself, training is of great importance to keep the skill levels high and not lose sight of the artisan aspect. “The presence of women in Fashion” – Ceolini said during her speech – “has a long tradition motivated by the typical craftsmanship of the sector in which women have greater possibilities to express their creativity and sensitivity. These ‘hands’ have great value”. The footwear sector, in fact, has an important number of women working in it, reflecting the general situation of the fashion industry which, according to a recent report on female entrepreneurship by Unioncamere, earns second place among the sectors with the highest share of women workers at 37.7% (after Wellness, Health and Social assistance which reach 59.1% and before Education and Tourism&Culture, with 36.3%). In the leather industry sector, the figure rises to 48.6% of the total. Compared to the presence of women on the factory floor, the situation is still different with regards to top positions, mostly presided over by men. Only 8 years ago, Assocalzaturifici itself appointed a female president for the first time. Ceolini recalls that our working system still poses obstacles today and seems to hinder women from reaching top positions right out of their training, often not oriented towards covering strategic and managerial roles. Furthermore, the lack of adequate aid from the state comes at a cost as women often engage in training pathways that see them abandon their careers before reaching the top.

Antonio Mancinelli interviews Giovanna Ceolini

Training is therefore a central issue for a female career and also involves the problem of generational turnover. “We are experiencing a paradox: precisely at the moment in which the desire for ‘Made in Italy’ is growing around the world, the discrepancy between the demand of the world of work and the skills offered by the market is also highlighted” – said the president – “Girls and boys are still victims of the prejudice according to which working in fashion means being a designer. But it is not so. The designer is only the apex of a chain that is made up of many professionals with great specific skills without which the latter would have no reason to exist. Technical training and work in the company are still seen as ‘lesser’ in some way. Thus, I believe it is important to establish collaborations with institutions, professional schools, and associations”.