Being a Woman from a Developing Country: The Challenges and Our Purpose

Diana Salas Diaz

Diana Salas Diaz

Thunderbird Women in Business President

In Fall 2020, five Peruvian women with different backgrounds crossed paths at Thunderbird.    Maria Fernanda Paz Alcazar, Nuria Shu, Ana Paula Chavarry Pizzorno, Maria Jose Missiego Matto, and I were determined to do a Masters Program in English, and we were able to fight the odds to be able to join Thunderbird in the middle of a pandemic. We have different backgrounds, skills, and talents; however, we all have experienced many constraints as women, and we all are passionate about economic development in Peru. On this International Women’s Day, our stories represent a symbol of hope and inspiration for women entering the workforce, along with a call to action that more needs to be done to support women, especially women from developing countries.

Maria Fernanda is pursuing a concentration on Global Business and Digital Transformation. She approaches marketing with a unique global mindset and a commitment to creating innovative brand strategies for target markets worldwide. As a Marketing Analyst with 3+ years of international experience, she has demonstrated her ability to successfully improve the sales experience, manage a marketing budget, organize and lead large-scale events, and provide personalized marketing support. Maria has experienced challenges back in Peru, including being limited in implementing her ideas and projects at work because of her gender. However, she still plans to contribute to Peru, improving the Peruvian brand and bringing more tourists to the country.  

Nuria is an architect who speaks four languages and has eight years of work experience in design, supply chain, and project management.  She has worked on two multimillion-dollar, award-winning renovation projects: a spa in Sedona and a luxury train hotel in Peru. It was incredibly difficult for her to work in a male-dominated industry like construction. She has experienced gender discrimination while leading construction projects with more than 150 workers, where she was tested continuously on her ability to perform her duties. Regardless of the challenge, she is looking forward to contributing to Peru with the knowledge and network gained in her Thunderbird journey.    

Ana is a 4+1 student double majoring in Economics and Global Management with a minor in Chinese. She is a trilingual social entrepreneur who has started diverse startups that range from an organic soap company to a multidisciplinary educational program for children. She was always told that she was too young, too ambitious, and too kind to face the challenges of running a nonprofit in a developing country. Ana is an ambassador of the Peruvian brand, her family, and her heritage. Despite all the challenges that being a woman politician in Peru represents, she is determined to go into politics to contribute to Peru’s development.   

Maria José is a 4+1 student completing a double degree in Global Management and Social Justice and Human Rights. Through previous international work experiences, Maria Jose contributed to the professional and entrepreneurial development of women in developing countries. The most pressing challenge that Maria has experienced in the workplace is repeatedly having to prove she is good enough to do the work. Maria Jose usually handles these situations by letting her actions and the quality of her work speak for themselves. She plans to contribute to Peru by focusing on public policy and development.

I am Diana, and I am a Creative Director with nine years of work experience in sales and customer care relationship management for multinational companies in five different countries. I consider myself a passionate Peruvian woman ambassador who has built long-lasting, strategic relationships with people from more than 50 different nationalities. Over my professional career, I have experienced workplace discrimination and gender stereotyping while leading diverse teams. I am determined to use my Thunderbird degree to work in the intersection between business and government in Peru, where I will develop large-scale partnerships with multilateral organizations to directly accelerate sustainable growth.  

Workplace discrimination, the lack of women in leadership roles in business and public life, and gender stereotyping are among the most critical issues facing women and girls in Peru today. Moreover, economic and cultural constraints continue to limit women’s employment opportunities across the globe. I believe that having more women, especially women from developing countries, in Thunderbird will positively impact the world because women are the key to economic development. Thunderbird is a place of possibilities; therefore, I feel optimistic about sharing these two years with my Peruvian fellows and the rest of the strong women attending Thunderbird. We represent a new opportunity for the country of Peru, the Latin American region, and the world.

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