My name is Jutta and I am a member of the Frankfurt School student initiative Women in Business. FS Women in Business is a network of female students supporting and encouraging each other. The heads of the initiative Selin Ceylan and Paulina Siebertz backed by their amazing team organize several workshops and gatherings, which embrace females in the financial industry and offer them new opportunities to broaden their horizons.
An issue I recently discussed in our group and many women encounter within the workplace or university is the feeling of not being heard. Have you ever experienced a group assignment where you mention a solid idea, which is ignored first, but ends up being implemented after another teammate repeats it? Did someone ever belittle your efforts, but eventually they turned out as essential after a supervisor evaluated the joint outcome? Unfortunately, quite a few females experience these kinds of situations in male-dominated working environments. Now one could say you should speak up, point out better arguments, or maybe your notion just was not that valuable. Men often do not realize that women balance on a fine line between making themselves heard and being perceived as too bossy. Insisting on your ideas might come off as uncooperative, self-centered, and ignorant. However, a male colleague behaving the same way might be described as determined, focused, and goal-oriented.
More and more females are following careers in areas where they have been underrepresented before. Dealing with change is difficult and it seems that some people do not realize that women are capable of far more than the stereotypical task of “childcare and cooking”. Not all males are following this example and it might be that even most of them are behaving this way unconsciously. Yet, experiencing this pattern several times can be really frustrating.
For this reason, I want to encourage all women out there to fight for their ideas and find ways on making themselves heard. There is a great amount of books you can read like “Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office” by Dr. Lois Frankel, and several podcasts you can listen to for example “hey, girl” by Alex Elle to learn certain mechanisms which help to make your voice matter. Our male counterparts, on the contrary, need to understand why getting a “female perspective” on topics will enhance overall outcomes and provide more fruitful results. This will require a lot of compromises and willingness to adapt but is nevertheless worth it and necessary.
We all need to start letting gender biases in the past, as they do not tell us anything about reality. I am positive that the financial sector will become more female-friendly in the future if we keep fighting for our rights and showcase that females can be highly successful business partners.