Euroculture Spotlight #4: Magdalena Coelho
14 Feb 2017
The fourth edition of the Euroculture spotlight features Magdalena Coelho.
Magdalena is a Euroculture 2013-2015 student or rather: almost a Euroculture alumna. Thanks, Magdalena, for taking the time to answer our questions! We wish you all the best for your future!
What is your affiliation with Euroculture?
I am a student, almost alumni, since I have just submitted my final thesis. But I prefer to say student while I still don’t have my diploma, because alumni means it is finished and I am sure I will miss it.
What is your current occupation?
I am in a transition phase. I guess many of the Euroculture students finishing now are in a similar phase. I came back home, Brazil, while I plan the next step. Meanwhile, I am trying to get involved with feminist initiatives in Brazil, hoping to share what I have learned and learn with them, as well as make new friends.
Where have you studied during Euroculture?
I have started and finished in Uppsala, Sweden. In the second term I went to Udine, Italy, and in the third to Mexico City, Mexico.
Would you like to share something special about your Euroculture experience?
The mobility that Euroculture allows us is very enriching. When I started the course, I was already interested in gender studies, so I had the opportunity to observe gender constructions in different countries. In Uppsala in the first term, I realized how important the issue was there, in academia and society in general. In Udine, I heard about the discussion on affirmative action regarding women in politics. I was there when Prime Minister Renzi appointed a gender balanced cabinet of ministers, and could follow all the criticism these women suffered, mainly related to their appearance or maternity. It was also interesting to study and write about the life of women in the Republic of Venice. In Mexico City, I had the chance to choose any course I wanted to take, additionally to the Euroculture courses. So I joined a course on Feminicides in Latin America, in a class with Mexican students. I could understand better the issue of violence against women in Latin America, and the different ways societies deal with violence that is gender motivated. Mexico was great learning experience, since I realized I cannot work/study violence too much, on a daily basis, because it is too hard for me. Finally, in the last term in Uppsala, I had the chance to officially enter this new field, and learn about gender studies in Swedish academia. Euroculture allows you to see the area you like the most in different ways, perspectives, realities, and test yourself, which is essential for good long term choices.
What did you like the most about Euroculture?
The thesis writing was a very special process/moment to me because I had the chance to focus on the area of my interest: gender equality at work. I went deeper into it by doing a case-study in a European company in Brazil and found out a new world of theorists that write about it. I was very lucky with my supervision. Anneli Häyrén is a researcher from the Center of Gender Research of the University of Uppsala and her work and ideas inspired me a lot. She suggested great bibliography; we had personal meetings with coffee, email exchanges, and readings followed by discussion. I could really feel it was a learning process, and that I was developing my research and writing skills. Being in contact with the Gender Studies of Uppsala has opened a new door and chapter of my life.
What did you do before Euroculture?
Before Euroculture I lived in Brazil. As I have a B.A. in English Translation, I worked for some years as certified translator and private tutor of English. I also worked for some years in large multinational companies, in different positions, when I studied business.
What are your plans for the future?
I plan to pursue a PhD in the field of gender studies, specifically in the area of equality at work, and hopefully in Sweden. The title of my master thesis is a quote from an employee in the company I studied that says “We have many extremely competent women who end up not being seen”, and from life experience and observation, this is still true in many organizations, all around the world, so there is a lot to be studied. Becoming a mother in the next years sounds like a good idea too. I have read in my bibliography that some people say that a woman who wants both career and family hear that they “want to have it all”, well… I do.
Where is the best place you have traveled to and why?
Cuba was definitely interesting. I had the chance to go there for 10 days in the end of the term in Mexico. The beach, cigars, mojitos and salsa are amazing, but what touched me is that they have such different values in their society, given the way it is structured. To a Brazilian, coming from a society of differences, seeing that a doctor with high specialization looks and lives the same way as anyone else is amazing. No one starves, is left without health services or education there, like in Sweden I guess. But the poverty and simplicity of life makes you think about your own priorities, about the things you like to think you cannot live without. I realized there is a lot I can do without and that I have many privileges. I also realized the importance of my own culture, identity, and roots, no matter where I am in the world, or how many problems my country might have, since the Cubans I’ve met seemed very proud of their country and culture, even if/when they go abroad. Also, it reminded me, after these two years travelling on my own, that communal life, family life, solidarity to the people around you is good everywhere, even in countries where the welfare system protects you so much, like Sweden. Well, this trip just helped reinforce the idea in my mind that equality is key, even if it means that I have to quit some of my privileges. Well, I guess the same logic applies to gender equality.