Interview by Maria-Cristina Marolda (*)
How did you start your career and how have you reached your present level?
Sous-ministre of Transport Québec, Canada
I started my career as a professional in a parapublic organization: it took a few years to reach the first management position and then I progressed within the organization that has undergone several changes till it was incorporated into a Ministry.
What have been the events/persons that have been favourable to your career progress?
I had the privilege to have bosses who acted as mentors. With their support I took advantage of great flexibility to face new challenges. They advised me for instance in difficult situations of management. I also believe that by accepting the new positions they offered to me, I was exposed to different environments and so I was allowed to consolidate my self-confidence.
Based on your own experience and your knowledge is it difficult for women to break the “glass ceiling” in Canada? More difficult in business or in the civil service? What are the main barriers in your opinion?
Based on my personal experience, I think it is rather easy to grow professionally in Canada, and in particular in the public service of Quebec. The positive discrimination (promote target groups as well as women when skills are equal) were a facilitating factor. In addition, the measures aimed at facilitating work-family balance - which were offered to female employees much more in the public than in in the private sector - have certainly helped me.
I do not think that the work-family balance is an obstacle to a woman's career, but one should not hesitate to inform her employer of the limitations she does not want to exceed. I always did before accepting a position, and I was able to remind my superior of the original agreement when I had to. But at the same time I always demonstrated flexibility when needed.
The main remaining barriers are often the lack of networking among women who do not value this type of activities to develop their contacts.
I also remark that women are more reluctant than men to push themselves forward, to apply for higher positions and therefore refrain from putting themselves on view.
Are there many women leading the transport industry in Canada?
Do you know successful cases of women in top positions in the transportation sector or in other industries?
I have the privilege of having deputy colleagues in other Provinces, such as Ontario and Ottawa at the Federal level.
The Ministry of Transport Québec supports an Action Plan on gender equality. What has been the impact of this plan on the quality of services offered to the population?
An adequate representation of the population in the public service is a guarantee that services are tailored to the different needs of citizens.
What are the main advantages which women have, which allow them to progress in their career? And which are the behaviours/qualities/attitudes that still hinder women’s careers?
Women have the ability to adapt easily to different working contexts. They like to get a deeper knowledge of “dossiers”, issues.
They need to gain more self-confidence.
What would you recommend to a woman who wants to start her career in the transportation industry?
To trust her capacities; not to be afraid to take chances; to vary work experiences.
Do you have any "special" message for young women starting their career in the transportation sector?
Manager for over 20 years in the Quebec public service, Ms Savoie has a strong background in managing operations of network services for the population, in Departments with socio-economic drive.
She holds a Master degree in Psychology from the University of Montreal and a BA in Psychology from the University of Quebec in Montreal.
Since 15 August 2011, Ms Savoie is the Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Transport of Quebec. In this capacity, Ms Savoie is responsible for the Ministry's operations, budget and programme development. She is in charge of implementing policy orientations in the field of transport following the Ministry's assignment, i.e. "to ensure in the whole territory a sustainable mobility of people and goods through efficient and safe transport systems that contribute to the development of Quebec".
Ms. Dominique Savoie
Sous-ministre of Transport Québec, Canada
Any views and opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Ministère des Transports Québec (Canada), nor do they constitute a legally binding agreement.
Maria Cristina Marolda
Maria Cristina MAROLDA is at present active as Policy Officer in charge of Research and Innovative Transport Systems in the EC Directorate General for Mobility and Transport.
She graduated in Technology of Architecture at the University of Rome, where she started her professional career. In 1991 she joined the Directorate General for Research at the European Commission.
She has always been engaged in Gender Equality issues, representing DG RTD services in the "Women & Science" working group, and continued this activity in the policy making environment of the Directorate General for Mobility and Transport.
She has been appointed as International Member to the TRB Committee on Women's Issues in Transportation for the period 2010-2013.
Arch. Maria Cristina Marolda - Policy Officer at European Commission DG MOVE Unit C2
Rue de la Loi 200 - B-1049 Brussels/Belgium
tel: +32 2 295 83 91