Why should more women choose a career in infrastructure? How can women in infrastructure create a more sustainable future? How can we address gender inequality?
These are just a few of the questions we explore in the three-part Q&A series that we’ve created to celebrate International Women’s Day 2022. This month, we’re profiling three female leaders at the GI Hub to discuss their thoughts on how we can collectively address inequality in the infrastructure sector. They also share their experiences, insights, and challenges – from personal to industry – on their career in infrastructure.
In part two of our series, we sat down with Cinthya Pastor, the GI Hub’s Director of Economics.
Cinthya has over 12 years of experience in economics, applied research, public policy analysis, and advocacy within the infrastructure sector. She has significant experience across government, private, not-for-profit, and multilateral organisations in Latin America, Asia, and the United State. During her career, she’s worked at the Inter-American Development Bank, the Peruvian Institute of Economics, and the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Peru. Cinthya holds a Masters in Public Administration in International Development from Harvard University, as well as a Bachelor of Economics from Universidad del Pacífico (Peru).
Q: This year’s theme is #BreakTheBias, what does this theme mean to you in your work life?
For me, #BreakingTheBias means acknowledging that bias exists and that we need to continue working towards leveling the playing field so that everyone has the same opportunities.
I have been fortunate so far, as I have not felt discriminated against in my job because I am a woman. In my work life, I always put in my best effort and try to leave no space for my capabilities to be questioned. This could be an extra effort I make unconsciously to prove that I am capable, however, I also believe that no one should have to prove themselves because of their gender.
Q: How has your personal background influenced your career?
My personal background and upbringing played a significant role in influencing my career trajectory. I was born in Peru at a time when the country was experiencing extreme poverty and rampant terrorism. My country struggled for several years, but later we overcame those problems due to structural economic reforms. The power of economics and public policies and its ability to change the course of Peru drew me in at an early age.
I chose economics as I wanted to understand the source of our problems and improve my country´s situation. I thought that economics would provide me with a broad outlook of the situation as well as the knowledge that I needed to help improve Peruvian public policies for the better. I think experiencing this has shaped me as a person, and in turn, my career.
Q: In your opinion, why is it important more women work in economics or the infrastructure sector?
It is important that we encourage more women into economics to include different angles and perspectives in public policies – within economics, the field is still unbalanced.
Likewise, in the infrastructure sector, women can contribute their perspectives to improve infrastructure. For example, I remember reading a report, ‘Women Create A Sustainable Future’, which found that businesses with more women on their boards and in executive-level positions are more likely to look for energy efficiency, invest in renewables, and measure and reduce carbon emissions.
Q: What advice would you give to women looking to start a career in the infrastructure sector?
Fight to achieve what you have planned because there are no limits, only the ones we put on ourselves. What matters is that you enjoy your work and do your best. If the career path you take is within the infrastructure sector, do not be discouraged by the concentration of males in the sector. In part, it is true that women face challenges in the sector due to certain biases, but on the other hand, women can pave the way for each other and future generations by forging together in solidarity to diminish bias and preconceptions.
Q: What has been your biggest achievement?
My biggest achievement was being accepted into Harvard, one of the best universities in the world. I had to overcome several challenges to get into Harvard. For me, it was something I had dreamt of since I was in high school, and it required a lot of determination, sacrifice, and effort on my part. I understood that being a woman from a developing country, I would have to put in more effort due to the amount of competition that I would face. In the end all my effort paid off, and I do not regret any decisions I have made to get where I am.