Laura Sagnier - Market intelligence specialist and pro-equal opportunities for women activist

We have no doubt that this VIRAGOmuse is one of the most special to date. We had the pleasure of talking to Laura Sagnier. Laura has dedicated her entire professional life to the field of market intelligence. In 2014, she was diagnosed with work stress and then she decided to take advantage of the opportunity to combine her years of experience with her interest in the world of women.

She is now the author of two books: Más cansadas que infelices (More tired than unhappy) and Las mujeres hoy: Cómo son, qué piensan y cómo se sienten (Women today: What they are like, what they think and how they feel), which compiles the results of the study that Laura directed and from which we would all learn about each and every aspect of women's lives. As Laura told us, "it is very interesting to read the study before making any important decision related to a man".

 

 

VIRAGO: Hi Laura, how are you? We are delighted to introduce a guest with such specific weight to our VIRAGO muse. A fighter for the common good of women. A speaker for all those silenced voices.  

Before we start, which song do you think is best to listen to while reading your interview?

Laura Sagnier: What a difficult question. Possibly one of Rosario Flores, a great artist who also exudes a lot of positive energy and desire to live life: "De mil colores", "Sabor, sabor", "Que bonito" or "No dudaría".

V: The truth is that you have been a very sweet and bitter discovery at the same time. Seeing that someone fights for the equality of women in the world of men that surrounds us is a relief and a feeling of strength that encourages us to continue defending what we believe necessary from VIRAGO Barcelona. However, one of your books is called "Más cansadas que infelices" (in English, “More tired than unhappy”). A very true phrase that provokes a lot of fear.

LS: I prefer to think that, instead of fear, it provokes hope. At least, while doing the study on women in Spain, it made me very happy to see that the vast majority feel happy with their lives. I was happy to see that the reason we often hear our friends, sisters or mothers complaining is because they are tired and do not feel unhappy with their lives. If you think about it, the habits that lead to this tiredness are much easier to change than anything that can cause unhappiness.

 

"I was glad to see that the reason we often hear our friends, sisters, or mothers complain is because they are tired and not unhappy with their lives.

 

V: Seeing it like this, it is true. I guess the important thing is to identify these habits and have the necessary attitude to change them.

For those who don't know who you are and how you got to this point, what do you think prompted you not only to launch into research on how women are, feel and live today, but also to finance it out of your own pocket? There is no better example than one who preaches himself. And that was a great role model. So, first of all, thank you for doing it.

LS: Thank you very much. But the truth is that it was not something premeditated. I was diagnosed with job stress and recommended to stop working for two years. Leaving what had been my job for the last 25 years, in fact, since I finished college, was very hard. At first I felt lost and disoriented and for the first time in my life I had a lot of free time. So, after a few months of disconnection, I decided to spend the "free" time I had to do a study like the ones I used to do for my clients at PRM Market Intelligence, but this time, instead of understanding how the financial or telecommunications market worked, I decided to understand what life is like for women in Spain. The world of women has always attracted my attention, because my environment is very feminine: we are three sisters and the three of us have had daughters, six in total. I thought that the results of the study could help my daughters, my nieces and their friends to make better decisions in their lives. In short: I was able to apply my 25 years of professional experience in market intelligence to an area with which I have always felt very close. A unique experience!

V: Now that you have been in this world for a few years, we would like to ask you a thousand questions. We have many doubts. Above all, what is true and what isn't. The press today is no longer so reliable with so much fake news. What is clear is that, if it used to be the press that sold women as products, now it is social networks. Constantly communicating to us that appearance is the only thing that matters and destroying our self-confidence. How do you think we can stop this? How should we turn it around? Above all, now that so many businesses (like ourselves -VIRAGO Barcelona-) depend on them, and in particular those in the fashion world.

LS: I'm glad to see that the issue of "appearance" is something that concerns you, because you really have to find a solution and brands, especially those working in fashion, have a lot to say and do about it. One of the most worrying results of the study is that, considering how complicated most women's lives are, for many, the facet of their life they are least happy with is their "physical appearance". One fact: 44% of women between 15 and 65 years old feel unhappy with their appearance. I know that the solution is not easy. And social networks aren't helping at all. From the point of view of fashion brands, I think we could work on the dimension of diversity, bringing the brand closer to reality, avoiding, for example, that all models are thin and young. Or is it that the ones that are not thin can't be great? Why don't we show what favors each woman according to her constitution?

"One of the most worrying results of the study is that, with how complicated most women's lives are, for many, the facet of their lives they are least happy with is their 'physical appearance'.”

 

V: We totally agree. And we are seeing a progress being made in this aspect, but it is true that there is still a long way to go.

At VIRAGO Barcelona we defend what we call "exploitation feminism". We believe that, given the rules of the game, getting to change them will require an in-depth work that will involve generations. We do not want our generation to be left without its share of the cake. So we try to teach that being sexy do not compromise being smart, that being outgoing does not mean looking for war, and that wanting to feel beautiful is legitimate and not a sign of insecurity. We want to play our cards the best way we can and play by the rules of the game, taking advantage of its loopholes. Our message is always: Use your feminine wiles, they will surrender. In other words, we know what world we are living in. We know that the more attractive you are, the more looks you attract, worth the redundancy. We want you to take advantage of that audience to say and get what you want. We want you to take advantage of the patriarchy.

LS: The truth is that this is the first time I've heard the expression "exploitative feminism". It's funny the way you approach it. I totally agree that being intelligent is not at odds with being sexy just as being a feminist is not at odds with being feminine. As far as clothing is concerned, I would say that the secret of success lies in knowing how to dress on every occasion. If you are going to a party with your friends, dress according to your tastes and your own personality. There you can be as flashy and sexy as you want. However, at the opposite end, if you dress for work, dress according to the codes of your position and the company you represent. And choose clothes that you like and that make you feel good but that are comfortable and professional. I believe that wearing the right clothes is one of the qualities of a smart woman.

 

“I believe that wearing the right clothes is one of the qualities of a smart woman.”

 

V: One of the fundamental conclusions of your research, and one that has left us most perplexed despite seeing it coming, is that "without equality in the distribution of family burdens (housework and care and education of children or dependents, if any), equality in the rest of life becomes an utopia”. For us it is something evident, but tell us more.

LS: Today, in most young couples, both she and he are active in the labour market so it is more common for family expenses to be shared halfway. However, the way in which they are sharing the other side of living together, i.e. housework or childcare if they have any, is far from being equitable. Today, women who live with a partner and have a paid job are doing more than twice as much as their partners (they do 67% and they do 29%). The remaining 4% is what paid help does. Which is the problem with this imbalance? Well, besides the fact that it erodes the day-to-day life of couples, it results in women having much less "free time" per day than men do and therefore, they charge their batteries worse. As a result, when women arrive at work the next day they are bound to be more tired than their opposite-sex partners, which will obviously affect their productivity and ultimately their promotion. It is very important that we think of this as a fish that bites its own tail. We are not SuperWomen so if we want to have the same opportunities as men in all areas, we have to start by achieving equality within the four walls of our house.

 

“It is very important that we think about this being a fish that bites its own tail. We are not SuperWomen so if we want to have the same opportunities as men in all areas, we have to start by achieving equality within the four walls of our house.”

   

     

V: Nowadays, due to the existence of a very chronic patriarchy in our society, it is very difficult to fight against "joke" sexism. And I put it in quotation marks because it's never a joke and it betrays the values and principles of the person who's making that supposed joke. How many women have we heard about the “a woman you had to be”, "the women in the kitchen” and the “this is a man's conversation”? This is the most difficult sexism to destroy. Men and women who make this kind of comments and then add that it's a joke, really believe that the comment is harmless, that it's not a big deal and that we shouldn’t be reacting like this. What message can we give them so that they don't feel attacked and develop a superior empathy and rationality?

LS: If we don't manage to involve men, we will never achieve real equality. I am in favor of dialogue and gaining support for the cause one by one. I believe that an excellent way to conquer them is by generating a constructive debate based on the results of the study #WomenToday. I am convinced that our best weapon is calm, and that it is fundamental that we take good advantage of the privileged historical moment in which the debate on gender inequality is found, not only in Spain but throughout the world.  

V: Before we finish, what advice would you give to our generation and those to come? How can we reverse this situation that has brought so much damage?

LS: What a responsibility! The first thing I would say to the women of your generation is to stay away from overbearing and sexist men, both in your circle of friends and in your relationships. Let's leave them isolated! Because what I am clear about at my age is that people do not change, especially in these matters. And the second thing I would say is that if one day you decide to share your life with a man, before doing so, you should talk at length about how you imagine your life project together, including the sharing of household tasks and the care and education of children if they enter into your future plans.   

V: And finally, a question we ask to all our guests. We have interviewed you because we believe you are an authentic VIRAGO, a woman with strength, power and courage. But, why do you think you are a VIRAGO? What garment from our collection do you feel most identified with? Remember that the names of our collection are all sarcastic, to make us laugh at the society that attributes stereotypes to us, which could not be further away from reality.

LS: Thank you very much for these compliments. The truth is that I don't consider myself a particularly brave person. But it is true that I feel very comfortable talking about the conclusions of the study and defending what comes out of them in relation to women's lives. When the study was completed I felt that I could not keep the results to myself. It was then when I decided to dedicate all the effort and time I could to activism for equal opportunities for women. As for the garment from your collection with which I feel most identified, the truth is that it took me a while to decide, they are all very special. I'll take the Gossip Lover Dress Olive, it's the one that best fits my current stage of life. I think it is elegant, comfortable and at the same time very very special. Perfect for a party with friends. Can’t wait!