Working World Future

Do women have the better cards?

Christina Bösenberg


Much still needs to be done in Germany for a modern corporate culture in which diversity is desired and which offers flexible solutions. How can women help shape this change?

When it comes to employment, Germany is underdeveloped in many respects. This applies not only to female careers and family, but also to leadership, health, knowledge management and innovation culture. We know and there is a social consensus. How do we now build future-oriented alternatives instead of fighting existing ones?

Can women look relaxed into the future?

The discussion about the global digitization of the world of work has been heated for years.

Future trends for the world of work are commonly cited:

  • Digital (R)evolution
  • Demographic change
  • Blurred boundaries between work and private life
  • Increased importance of the service sector
  • Structural changes (coworking, home office, softening working hours and hierarchies, flexible alternative employment etc.)
  • Female presence
  • Diversity and diversity management (life phases, cultural backgrounds, age, etc.)

According to this, women can really look casually into the future. Because they are excellently positioned to cope with all these trends in everyday life. Social competences, flexibility, an overview of complexity – all these competences have always been said to women.

Women and job opportunities: everything just a matter of the mind?

So what if all the much-described hurdles only existed in people’s minds?

In order to clarify this, one should look at how the future trend “The working world is becoming more feminine” really is today. Even today, women make up the majority of school and university graduates and achieve even better grades. Nevertheless, the current status is as follows: only 37 of the 663 board members in the Dax-, S-Dax-, M-Dax, and Tec-Dax-companies female. This corresponds to a female quota of just 5.6 percent.

The classic male and female occupations also continue to exist. If one changes the focus away from pure management board functions to middle management, one sees significantly more women, but often in typical functions and still at least 21 percent below the salary of male employees  in a comparable position.

What opportunities does the tech industry offer women?

Let’s take a look at the technology industry, which is the global pioneer of digitization. According to the industry association Bitkom, the proportion of women here in Germany is 15 percent. The situation worldwide is only slightly different.

In order to recruit and retain employees, Facebook and Apple pay for the freezing of ova and IBM takes over the transport of pumped breast milk to the offspring if the mother is prevented from doing so. Although there are prominent women on some executive floors such as Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook), Marissa Mayer (Yahoo) or Susan Wojcicki (YouTube) but that Silicon Valley is still also a domain of white men.

In the local tech industry there are also women in exposed positions: Martina Koederitz has been managing IBM’s business in Germany for four years. And it recently became known that with Sabine Bendiek 2016 for the first time a woman will head Microsoft Germany. She previously worked for the storage specialist EMC.

I guess Mrs. Bendiek, a recent quote nevertheless made me suspicious in connection with the working world of the future: “Of course you have to be driven and do a good job,” she said in an interview with Computerwoche. “But you shouldn’t try to be perfect. That kills you. Otherwise simply: Don’t be afraid and have the confidence to do something.”

Do women still have to prove more than men?

All correct – interesting, however, is the reference to the often cited (and assumed) female perfectionism, which stems from the old pattern that women in business have to be three times as good as men in order to arrive at creative positions.