“The theme of the discussion today is gender equity, equal pay and how do we get there? Today’s discussion is the topic of high relevance all over the world,” said The Ambassador of Iceland Geir H. Haarde who hosted a panel discussion with his wife Inga Jóna Thordardottir at their residence in collaboration with The Institute for Education Founder and CEO Coach Kathy Kemper. “It’s always the same thing. Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, put it this way: ‘The failure to unleash women’s potential is one of the great tragedies and missed opportunities of our time.’”
“My own country for several decades has put a lot of emphasis on this issue,” he added. “The World Economics Forum in Switzerland ranks countries every year and Iceland has been on the top of the list or number one for nine years in a row.”
Hreinn Pálsson has worked for the Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs since 2005. His first posting was at the Icelandic Embassy in Washington DC. He then served as the Deputy Head of Administration and Consular Affairs at the Foreign Ministry in Reykjavik. In 2009 he was Appointed Consul General of Iceland in Shanghai and Commissioner General for Iceland’s participation at the 2010 World EXPO. In 2011 he became Director of the Foreign Ministries department of translations, responsible for implementation of EU aquis into Icelandic law. In 2013 he became Deputy Head of Mission at the Icelandic Embassy in Moscow and since 2017 he has served as Deputy Chief of Mission and Defense Attaché at the Icelandic Embassy in Washington D.C. Pálsson introduced the panel who approached the subject from their various expertise.
Bios and a few excerpts:
Nina Easton is partner and co-founder of SellersEaston Media. She is also chair of Fortune Most Powerful Women International and co-chair of the Fortune Global Forum. At the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), she hosts Smart Women, Smart Power. She is a bestselling author, magazine writer and TV commentator. For 15 years, she was a regular political analyst on high-profile TV shows such as Fox News Sunday and Meet the Press. Prior to joining Fortune, she spent a decade as an award-winning senior writer at the Los Angeles Times. Her critically-acclaimed political history, Gang of Five: Leaders at the Center of the Conservative Crusade, ranks on the Vox list of “books to read to understand the world.” In 2012, she was honored to serve as a dual fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School.
Before responding, Easton called Kathy Kemper “The power girl of brains.” “Pay Equity has been in the law for decades since the 1960’s. Most States have laws. We have come some distance. From my perspective what we are seeing is woman are going into the bottom but what happens is they drop out along the way. Unless you have more women in decision making capacities, more women making that kind of money that comes with it, you’re not going to see a change in the pay gap.”
Shane Green is a pioneer in the movement to empower individuals with their data and to establish online privacy and control of data as a human right. He overseas digi.me’s operations in North America and supports the company’s overall product marketing efforts globally. He is also the co-founder and char of UBDI (ubdi.com). Shane was co-founder and CEO of Personal, which merged with digi.me in 2017. He also chairs TeamData, an enterprise information security business built on digi.me’s platform. Previously, he was co-founder and CEO of The Map Network, which became the world’s largest location data platform after being acquired by Nokia/NAVTEQ. He served as Vice President at Nokia/NAVTEQ. Shane’s first startup, Witten Technologies, was named Software Innovation of the Year in 2004 by The Wall Street Journal. He also helped launch the non-profit Crisis Group while at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Shane is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, was named a Privacy by Design Ambassador, serves on the boards of the Institute for Education and the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, is a member of the Aspen Institute’s Communications & Society Program, and previously served as Vice Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Data.
“In the tech world, it is amazing how male-centric it is. But what’s also interesting is that in the tech world, in the science world, there is the least gap in wages, in gender wages. In the tech world and in the science world you have the most flexibility of schedules. The tools for doing remote work is promising for gender gaps – you don’t have to be at the office constantly. The big elephant in the room is that woman have babies. Men fundamentally look at it as ‘it’s not our problem.’ That is a reality with many layers to it. Even in the most progressive homes, women are still the CEO’s of their families.”
Margrét Pála Ólafsdóttir is an Icelandic pioneer pedagogue, educator and philanthropist. She is a kindergarten and elementary teacher with further studies in school management, an M.Ed. in pedagogy and education and an MBA degree in business administration. Margrét Pála has written numerous books and articles on gender equality, pedagogy and education, both for parents and academics. She is also well known as a consultant, lecturer and analyst and has been granted numerous awards and recognition for her work, including The Knight‘s Cross of the Icelandic Order of the Falcon from the President of Iceland for innovation in education.
“In private businesses women are not there yet. In politics we are doing great. So what should we do to change? Do we need to change? My best answer is simply we need to more or less change basically everything in society. There are founding fathers, but are there founding mothers? It is so deep routed in our culture. To emphasize, we are not dealing with simple things so let’s start from the very beginning and start to understand the difference between boys and girls, men and women and start to understand what inequality is all about.”
Drífa Sigurðardóttir finished M.Sc. Education in public administration from Strathclyde University, Glasgow, and BA in Political Science from University of Iceland. Drífa has extensive experience in Human Resource Management and Corporate Management, including strategy, project management, implementation and operation of quality systems, gender equality and wage and salary issues. Drífa worked as Human Resource Manager at Isavia in Reykjavík 2016-2017 and was a HR Manager at Mannviti 2007-2015. She sits as a board member at Birta pension fund. She is one of the founding members of Flóra, Association of HR managers in Iceland, and sat on the board of Flóra for total 5 years.
“One of the most important factors in having women in all walks of life is the importance of role models. In all walks of life, it is important to see powerful women in all roles. When the first woman was elected president in Iceland my father was so shocked and my mom didn’t say much.”