Joana Barbany Freixa: “It Is Better To Ask for Forgiveness Than Permission”

Joana Barbany Freixa: “It Is Better To Ask for Forgiveness Than Permission”

Joana Barbany Freixa moves like a fish in water in technological scenarios and from the general direction of the digital society of the Generalitat de Catalunya, each working day is dedicated to designing strategies for the incorporation of women into technology.

The challenges that she overcomes day by day as a public servant include the management of innovation projects in the public sector, the design of business digital strategies, and bridging gaps to increase the encounter of women with technology: “I worked in private companies for more than 15 years but I accepted an offer from my mentor and friend Mercé Conesa to move to the public sector and I have been there since 2011”.

Breaking gaps and stereotypes

Joana is aware of the deficiencies that characterize both training and the inclusion and empowerment of women in the exercise of technology in Latin countries and although there are greater advances in this regard in Europe, in any case, men have a greater presence in the world digital: “This sector constantly opens up job opportunities and that is why we must include schoolgirls in the digital world from the time they are little. With this idea, we also approach, in universities and companies, leading women who go to schools and cultural centers to train girls”.

For a year now, Joana Barbany, exercising her role as a public official, has been helping women entrepreneurs with financial resources to develop their projects: “We also help companies that want to train their employees in technology. We try to reach all socioeconomic levels to teach them technology from basic to specialized levels.” That means training them in tasks such as sending emails, making video calls, integrating with Whatsapp, or learning advanced programs. In this way, Barbany breaks stereotypes and collaborates in overcoming gender gaps through a great impact that she, together with her work team, exerts as one more public service.

A select group of leaders

Although Joana Barbany is part of a select group of leading women in Spain, she does not brand herself with this label: “I don’t know if I’m a leader or not, I just do what I like, and it makes me happy. What I want is to help people change their reality, which fulfills me, and I plan to work on integrating women into technology for many more years. I don’t chase leadership. In my house I am a leader -she says laughing- but outside I don’t know”.

Why are many women afraid to approach technology? Joana believes that to overcome it, “it is a matter of breaking our glass ceiling. It is common for women to limit themselves, we are not brave, and we are afraid of making mistakes and making a fool of ourselves. Men outdo us in that. We want to be perfect and that is why we do not dare many things, we are insecure. I tell my sisters and daughters to dare, if things don’t go well then you must keep trying. Women do not apply for a job if they do not meet 100% of the requirements, men do. That’s why I prefer to ask for forgiveness than permission.”

Every woman adds

To overcome the distances that separate men and women in what has to do with the use of technology, Joana works as a volunteer, ambassador, and mentor in the Woman in Tech Barcelona network, which keeps her in contact with young people and allows her to participate in the connection of the Barcelona ecosystem with international networks, always with the commitment to add women to the technological field”.

Four children, a husband, and a dog make up Joana Barbany’s family. In the dynamics of her life, she applies gender equality inside and outside the home: “My children, my husband, and I share the housework and I count on their support for everything. My grandmother and my mother are my references for their independence, that’s why since I was little, I think that men and women are equal”.

Outside of her work, Joana Barbany plays sports, practices hockey with her family, and participates in competitions. At home, she enjoys watching television series with her husband and children and eating together. Her kitchen is run by the man of the house.

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