Career as an executive with a child: Tips from the DAX30 Executive, Minister and Head of State


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Women and especially mothers in leadership positions or the reconciliation of child and career is still a topic in which the ghosts divorce.

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Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisherGerman Top20 blogger and Consultant for HR communication.

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Dual career - Both partners should realize their professional goals

An important sticking point with the compatibility of work and family is that both partners can realize their professional goals, even if they have children. Exactly this seems to be still a problem in Germany, as the annual Innofact survey commissioned by Initiative Chefsache shows among 1.000 executives and budding executives in Germany.

Almost two-thirds of respondents with children (63 percent) find it difficult or very difficult for both partners to realize their career aspirations. For couples without children, this is obviously unproblematic: Only nine percent of childless people consider their dual careers difficult.

Social conditions difficult

In particular, the social framework seems to prevent double careers by leaving too little scope for flexible role models. For example, 65 percent of managers want more acceptance from two full-time parents. Full-time employment with mothers is seen by the majority as critical as part-time work by fathers.

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Indeed, 57 percent of executives surveyed say it is socially accepted when both parents work. But less than a quarter (23 percent) believe it is socially accepted if only the mother works full-time, with fathers it's 76 percent.

Siemens personnel manager Janina Kugel: The Rabenmutter complex?

Siemens Personnel Officer Janina Kugel knows the obstacles that stand in the way of working mothers, from her own experience, as she stated at the presentation Opportunity Reports: "Do not ask me how many times I was referred to as a raven mother," said Kugel at her Welcome speech to the annual Top Chefs Conference. Kugel had started to work relatively quickly after the birth of her children "of course because I knew that I'm out of the job when I'm too late," she admitted.

The complete equality and equal opportunity of the sexes is therefore a concern of her today, but she only sees this achieved if both partners can pursue their respective career goals and not, as would often be the case today, women financial losses due to children, keyword partzeitfall, have to accept. Therefore, Siemens employees of the HR director can use a eMail send them when their supervisor does not have enough flexibility in the workzeitdesign leaves. That works because "Believe me, no manager would like to receive this call from the board."

Federal Defense Minister Ursula van der Leyen: Creating supportive structures

Likewise, German Defense Minister Ursula van der Leyen knows how important the right structures and helpers are to promote gender equality. At her first pregnancy she had to listen to herself as a young doctor in the hospital, that it was a pity to lose her as a worker. It was then her chief physician who had motivated her, targeted targeted to re-enter the profession by one year, the job for them picked up.

At the second child, she had been close to burnout, then one of the few women's representatives offered her a job sharing. After all, she had come into contact with the subject of dual careers at the University of Stanford for the third time. "The university has recognized that it only attracts bright people if it offers both partners a perspective. Therefore, although performance is required at work, but also ensured that both partners take equal care of their children. "It is not least such experiences, which showed the Federal Minister of Defense, how important an encouraging environment - and that is what she wants to implement politically ,

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Unconscious bias in the male domain

At the same time, van der Leyen spoke self-critically about the male domain of the Bundeswehr. "We lose young women because their superiors do not trust them to become generalists and do not promote them accordingly. The officers are often unaware of this and they are then very surprised when we draw their attention to it, "van der Leyen explained, which is probably for many Company applies:

The unconscious bias, the so-called Unconscious Bias, in many cases makes an objective performance assessment difficult. "Therefore, supervisors should have to prove exactly who they want to promote and why." Promoting dual careers would also be in the interest of companies that otherwise risk losing well-educated professionals: "Even qualified young men do not want to work in a dusty environment. And in the end it's also about what kind of society we want to live in. Everyone has to work together: politics, business and everyone for themselves personally. "

But implementing this is unfortunately not that easy for individuals: daycare places and flexible working hours that enable women and men to combine family and work are often in short supply. And apart from the fact that part-time or even just going home early is not exactly a career-enhancing factor in many industries and companies and it is not for nothing that the quota for more women in management positions is being discussed: German is probably the only language that knows the word “raven mother” .

Women work: Long normal in other countries

While it is normal in other countries that mothers are working, German mothers are looked at awry - by the boss, by colleagues, other mothers or their own family. I remember how irritated a Brazilian colleague was when I asked her how she could do her job as a travel journalist with two children.

It was normal for women to work in Brazil, she responded. And I remember the anonymous book by a German top manager and mother who says that a female leader with a child does not fit in with the current worldview. Does the statement that child and career is primarily a question of organization, too short?

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Former head of state Vigdís Finnbogadóttir women must be more confident

Yes, says the former Icelandic head of state Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, as a single mother in office for 16 years, whom I interviewed in Berlin a few years ago. “Organization” and “I was looking for help” says she too. But Vigdís Finnbogadóttir said something very important at the end of our interview: women should have more confidence in themselves. She had to be persuaded to be elected president first

Her daughter, she told me, is now a mother herself and shares child-rearing with her husband. The little one is in the daycare, both have a full-time job; if one has to work longer, the other steps in. "If you make money, you have to spend a part on childcare," said Vigdis Finnbogadottir. And: "You have to cooperate with each other."

Women - too little desire for power?

With that she has hit the nail on the head: Beside all the social difficulties, which are connected with the topic compatibility of child and career, there is also still the personal aspect.

In their book “Lust auf Macht”, the authors Andrea Och and Katharina Daniels show that all too often women are not aware of their own strengths and that they often associate power negatively. Power can also mean personal freedom. And as one of the most important tips on the way to power, the authors give their readers exactly what Vigdís Finnbogadóttir emphasized: cooperation and networking.

Afraid of loss of control?

But this is exactly where the rabbit is in the air: if the necessary self-confidence is lacking, it becomes difficult to hand over work of any kind to others. Because only those who can trust themselves can ask for help. It might be construed as a weakness for help seeking.

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That's why many women have a problem transferring tasks to others. But also because they lack the confidence that the job is already done well. Because they do not want to lose control.

More cooperation and self-confidence

Or because they want to show the boss, the colleague or even the husband that it can not go without them - until they collapse under the superhuman workload. Exactly because many mothers, who want to get a child and career under one roof fail. Of course there are the social hurdles. Of course, it is easier for well-to-do women to financially organize such help. Of course, an encouraging environment is important.

Nevertheless, I think - and I agree with Vigdís Finnbogadóttir - it is also up to every woman to change her own circumstances. So wrote a Pakistani journalist at the end of an article in the WELT: "This is how I meet more women in Germany who dedicate themselves to children and partners and fewer women who concentrate on their careers and themselves than among my friends in Pakistan."


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