When things get serious, women take over the helm. It’s a good, strong ability, but it’s also a problem: women take over where someone is really needed. And that is more true in private, because that is where the height of fall is greatest and, this is also a truth, because women often have no back-up at home. Men save the company, women save the family. The feeling: “If mom doesn’t do it, nobody will.”
This effect continues to shape the careers of women today. The feeling in the executive suite: women are a risk in the team because they take care of the essentials – even when it’s at home. It doesn’t have to be like that. Modern men don’t want to live like that themselves. However, in many companies you come across structures in which parental leave is not welcome. This not only has consequences for babies. If the experience of being solely responsible for the family during the day is missing, it is difficult to make up for later.
Then there is the money. If there is a risk of loss of earnings, the person who earns less stays at home for economic reasons. In a society that pays women less for their work, a vicious circle arises from which women are not let out.
Mothers have to put their work behind in order for the family to function
You can see how strongly women’s sense of duty negatively affects careers in Corona. Linkedin recently evaluated user data and reported: “Worldwide, the proportion of women in all new hires reached a low of 40.6 percent on average in April. In June (43.9 percent) and July (44.5 percent) the proportion recovered, while the corona restrictions were relaxed in many countries. “
Germany is far worse off: “In Germany, the proportion of women in new hires fell from 42.5 percent in February to 40 percent in April. In May (40.9 percent), June (40.9 percent) and July (40.1 percent) the proportion recovered slightly. “
The “New York Times” headlined: “When Mom’s Zoom Meeting Is the One That Has to Wait”. Yes, if so then what? If mothers have to postpone their work to make the rest of the family work, then their careers will no longer work. We as a society can demand what we want, that’s just the way it is.
So something has to change, now, specifically, at home, in the partnership, in the company. Many women have ideas of how this could work; NewsABC.net spoke to five of them.
The entrepreneur Pia Frey spoke to us about the corporate culture in her team, which enables employees to bring their families and their professional responsibilities together. The author and seminar leader Laura Fröhlich reveals how the distribution of tasks in her family works. The chairwoman of Pro Quote, Edith Heitkämper, tells us what women will do better in management positions. Entrepreneur and visibility thought leader Tijen Onaran shows how women stay in conversation. And politician Ricarda Lang explains how politics and administration can help.
Pia Frey, founder of Opinary
NewsABC.net: What Can Companies Do to Avoid Losing Good People to Childcare or Care?
Pia Frey: We allow a high degree of flexibility – in our employment contracts and in our culture. In this way, employees can combine their responsibilities at work and for their families. The standard for us comes from the C-Level: My Opinary co-founder is a father of three.
It is essential for this flexibility to enable part-time models. An example: Our Head of Product works part-time because of his family. This is an organizational challenge – but it corresponds to our ideals. Core working hours and compulsory attendance do not exist and never have been with us. We arrange for meetings. And we have unlimited vacation days. But if someone takes too little, then we notice it.
Flexibility can be stipulated – but the values behind it are more important and supportive. As a team, we are very law-abiding in terms of our corporate value “Care and Respect“. The expectations we have of each other in professional life are important. But if someone is on fire, that is more important.
Laura Fröhlich, speaker and author: “The woman for life is not the girl for everything”
NewsABC.net: What Can Families Do to Prevent Women’s Careers from Suffering from Corona Restrictions?
Laura Fröhlich: The problem lies in the parents’ reasons for action: the mother drops the pen when the child has to be picked up. The father is finishing his presentation because the boss wants it in the evening. This affects couples in all industrialized nations. Men feel more responsible for their employment, women more for family organization. That has not decreased, even if women are now working at the same time. The feeling: “If I don’t think about it, nobody will.”
When I realized this, we listed all the tasks in the house and got an overview of who of us is doing what. Then we redistributed the tasks. The very important question is: What is urgent, what needs to be done immediately? So far it has often been women who have done the urgent everyday activities. This is why women do not have a clear head for the next step in their careers. A couple, on the other hand, only works if they are aware of the problem and then strategically approach the organization of the family.
Tijen Onaran, founder of Global Digital Women, author: “Only those who are visible will also take place”
NewsABC.net: Corona puts a damper on the careers of women. What can we do now to become visible again?
Tijen Onaran: Before starting (again) I have to ask myself three important questions: What are my talents? Who should have me on the slip? And what do I want to achieve with my positioning?
When I know that, I’ll find the right channel. These can be coffee or lunch appointments in your own company or professional posts on LinkedIn. Positioning and visibility are possible online and offline. And then it’s time to get started, show your stance and take a stand!
Edith Heitkämper, chairwoman of “Pro Quote”
NewsABC.net: If there were more women executives, would the situation be better?
Edith Heitkämper: Of course it makes a difference if there are more female bosses in the lead! In the media, but also in every other company. First, the results are better with various management teams, as studies have long shown. Second, there are fewer of those unnecessary 5pm appointments. Third, it feels different. Because of course bosses determine the atmosphere! Many are familiar with the conflict between work happiness and the feeling: “Right now I should-be-at-home”. Therefore there is (mostly) greater benevolence and openness among female bosses for flexible work models in order to bring job and all other daily madness under one roof. Women and men will benefit equally from this.
Tips: Make a goal of saying something at every conference. Discuss with colleagues how you can support each other in the meeting. Train your voices, if in doubt, take a few hours of voice training. Praise different women every day! Make a conscious effort to empower other women. Buy red sweaters.
Ricarda Lang, Deputy Federal Chairwoman and spokeswoman for women’s politics for the Greens
NewsABC.net: What can politics and administration do now to prevent women from being disadvantaged?
Ricarda Lang: The corona crisis has shown that the moment childcare becomes a private matter again, it often sticks to the woman. Concrete steps must be:
1. We have to plan ahead for the next wave. Everything must be done to ensure that schools and daycare centers remain open. To do this, we need clear concepts for teaching in small groups, for hygiene rules and for good ventilation concepts in the classrooms, especially through the installation of filter systems. And a digitization offensive is needed for schools.
2. We need a right to return to full-time and the introduction of flexible full-time – so that everyone can increase and decrease their working hours depending on their phase of life, as it suits them. In addition, everything must be done to ensure that parents share parental leave more equally. Because at this point, career paths diverge for many couples.
3. We need equal pay and a collective right of action. I know many couples who want to split childcare and care work fairly. The men feel like it. But it doesn’t pay off financially because men often earn more than women. Children cost money, so it matters who has more wages. As long as it is financially rational for the woman to stay at home, we will not get a fairer distribution.