Each year The Miss Italia pageant is held to find a young woman that best represents Italian beauty, culture and values. “Her aim should not be to appear on TV but rather to have a family.” Said Enzo Mirigliani, who ran the pageant for 38 years. As a representative of the county, Miss Italia is the ideal example of what a tradition Italian woman would be. Instead of setting career goals she should be focused on the family.
In Italy Relationships and family bonds are extremely important. Unlike in America, it would not be illegal, or even unusual for a woman to be asked about her marital status and children in a job interview process. In fact, I was shocked to learn that this is actually required information on a European resume. If there is one thing I learned on this trip it is that cultural norms are not good or bad, just different. There are advantages and disadvantages to every culture. The good in this case is that women are required paid pregnancy leave, the disadvantage being that it may be harder to get a job as a young woman due to discrimination.
Even with a stronger emphasis on family in, the roles of women in Italy are very similar to what we see in America. Women have a strong presence in the work force as well as in universities. After schooling, it is very common for both young men and women to move back home. In fact 78% of Italian men in their 30’s still live at home. The Italian people often live in one city and have the same career their entire life. In This means that relationships are life long. The sheer amount of time spent together could be the reason why family ties are so heavily valued. The difference between cultures is values. In America we value change and innovation, while in Italy the value is all about tradition and relationships.
In America you can walk into any restaurant or shop and safely assume the staff is not related. In southern Italy it is the exact opposite. Almost every single business is family run. Due to lack of zoning, apartments and businesses are all mixed together. Most often the family will live upstairs, then work together in the shop below. There is a hierarchy to how the family and businesses are run, and mamma is always at the top. Older women in the Italian culture are very highly regarded and often make decisions for the family as a whole. “When biological beauty fades another kind takes its place, one that only life and experience can give you and that people can see in your eyes” Said Monica Bellucci in an interview. She has been said to be the icon of Mediterranean beauty. At the age of 50 she continues to represent Dolce and Gahanna. This type of respect for seniority was demonstrated every time I attempted to pay. Unlike in America, not every person in the shop is allowed to handle money, only the most trusted family member. They will not take the payment and will simply point you to the cashier. The person running the cashier is always older, and more often than not, she is the mamma.
This hierarchy differs from American culture. At home jobs would be based on skill. Here, they are based on family and seniority. The Italian culture brings a whole new meaning to the term “networking”.
Monica’s Interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTW6y1r5CX4
About The Author:
My name is Cassie Crutchfield and I recently completed my junior year at Colorado State University. I am a communications major with a minor in business with future plans of working in either marketing or public relations. Coming to Sorrento has been the experience of a lifetime. I had always dreamed of studying abroad and am so thankful I finally took the leap of faith. Growing up in Colorado, it is easy to assume that the American way of doing things is the only way. Living in Italy for two and a half weeks opened my eyes to a whole another world and taught me to be more open minded when working with people from different cultures.