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As a business coach for women, I so often hear statements like, “You can vote, you already have so many rights, and you’re even on boards now – what more do you want?” I can see one or the other listener literally rolling her eyes, because we all know the answer to this question: We want more!
I won’t start now with the basic facts that in the 21st century we still have a Gender Pay Gap, Gender Care Gap, Gender Data Gap, or Gender Pension Gap. These examples could go on for hours.
We find structural discrimination in almost every area of our lives
I speak here myself from the position of a privileged, white, straight cis-woman with an academic background – Sure, I have an immigrant background and can tell the classic “phoenix from the ashes” story, but in other parts of the world it’s a different story. Here, women are exposed to even more structural discrimination. Marriage itself, by the way, is also subject to structural discrimination, and by that I don’t just mean in terms of marital splitting, but in terms of the romanticization that accompanies this construct.
I can’t count on one hand the number of times I’ve been asked why I’m not married. I am not against marriage, but we should understand that it is also a contract and a contract should at best follow rules that you yourself have established.
If we look at the social rules that have been designed directly or even subconsciously for us women, we have to realize: They are just crap. They were conceived by men during the last century and are intended to show children and women possibilities as well as limitations.
What female empowerment can achieve
Now, of course, we can complain all the livelong day or how to start doing something about it and this is where Female Empowerment comes in. There is no interpretive sovereignty with regard to female empowerment, because it is always important in which context we see this term. Basically, however, it can be said that this involves the targeted promotion of women and girls worldwide so that they have the same opportunities as men in the social, economic and educational spheres. Female empowerment is also a matter of attitude – a matter of respect. Promoting women does not mean discriminating against men. After all, we don’t want the whole pie, just the half we’re entitled to.
How can we make female empowerment a tangible experience?
I’ve brought you a few points on this that, as a two-time mentor myself, I can see that we women could really use or should live by ourselves.
1. active state and institutional support
Nothing works without money – money means power. Whether coding classes specifically for girls or venture capital for female founders, the range of funding opportunities is huge. Investment in feminist and women’s projects must be given more recognition by the state as well as society. Therefore, dare to tell about your business ideas and projects and get supporters.
2. advocate specifically for women
It’s easy to say that you should go through life confidently when any behavior that doesn’t fit the norm is labeled “bossy,” “bitchy,” or “dominant.” We women have to stand up for each other. This means: actively listening, looking when something is discriminatory and above all – speaking up. Be a shield for each other.
3. reach out to other women
I declare myself a vehement supporter of the women’s quota. However, I think there needs to be an awareness beyond that that we women can only be successful together. This means: We must use our power to reach out to other women so that we can increasingly expand our quota in positions of power.
4. form or be part of a network
You need other Alpha women around you because as the saying goes, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” We need to leave the competitive mindset behind and surround ourselves with women who will promote us and who we will promote in return. I always give other women the benefit of the doubt, and I do so without expecting anything in return, because I know that my energy is always well spent here. If you have no idea how to get a good network, feel free to network with me and let’s be networking partners. Alternatively, you can download my networking kit or become part of my own Facebook community and benefit from an already existing network.
5. “Be hard on the facts, but soft on the people.”
We have to stop playing the nice girls next door in business, because it’s literally not profitable. Whether it’s salary negotiations or your compensation as a self-employed person, know your worth or others will set it for you. On the other hand, you should never forget that people quickly forget what you once said or did, but they never forget how you treated them (This is especially true for leaders).
6. stop judging others by their appearance
Yes, there is also positive discrimination! (“Oh, have you lost some weight?”) – We are literally socialized to look our best and constantly subject ourselves to evaluation by others. Make sure in your environment that women are asked about their potential, attitude, commitment or personality and not whether they want to work on their bikini figure again in the summer.
7 Sharing is Caring
If you have collaborations, assignments, job postings or an exciting contact, forward them to other women in your network. Only a queen bee keeps all the glory for herself, therefore recommend other women.
8. talk to each other
Talks about money, about sex, about diseases or stumbling blocks. Share your experiences, because by doing so you will help yourself and others to turn their backs on the perfection mania in our society.
9. stop trying to be “everybodys darling
I am not just a person who moves in public space since yesterday. Therefore, I know the beautiful aspects and the downsides of it. Standing up for female empowerment, however, means facing resistance, and sometimes that can hurt quite a bit. Be aware that not every person has to be your friend and that you also polarize with your attitude.
Female empowerment doesn’t mean going to a nice networking event once a year, drinking prosecco and telling people about your life. Female empowerment is a daily task that we should dedicate ourselves to in order to stand up to structural, gender-based discrimination.
Female Empowerment starts with you today and is accomplished when even the last girl on this earth is equal in every way.
I’d be very interested in your thoughts on this podcast episode – feel free to get in touch or leave a comment.
About the author
Kinga Bartczak berät, coacht und schreibt zu Female Empowerment, neuer Arbeitskultur, Organisationsentwicklung systemischen Coaching, und Personal Branding.
Zudem ist sie Geschäftsführerin der UnternehmerRebellen GmbH und Herausgeberin des FemalExperts Magazins.