When women succeed in male-dominated fields, most of the attention they receive revolves around the fact of their gender. Media profiles emphasize their subjects’ glass-ceiling-shattering statistics, be that as it may First female billionaire Pledge to donate half of your wealth or the first female founder grain or Denim Industries interviewees focus on questions about how female founders and executives achieved professional success during this time. Raising families or dealing with such problems infertility and sexism.
On the one hand, it makes sense that much of the public discourse about women leaders is gendered while still lacking. Women CEOs around the world And startups founded by women in the US received Only 2% of venture capital funds In 2021 But a new one Reports (pdf) Public relations firm Finsbury Glover Hering (FGH) highlights the ways that praising women for succeeding against the odds can perpetuate the sexist status quo.
Although the report focuses on German business leaders, its findings are relevant to all countries where gender inequality remains a reality.
Why Focusing on Gender Can Disempower Women
Finsbury’s report examined 600 recent interviews in German publications to analyze gender patterns in how the media treated male and female executives, a term that includes founders, entrepreneurs and board members.
One of the most important points of the report is that even seemingly salutary observations about how women are unique in their fields can have negative effects. It has drawn attention to profiles calling women in construction “foreigners,” former Siemens chief human resources officer Janina Kugel a “pop star” and Taj Merck CEO Belen Garrijo “in the DAX.” First Queen”, says Germany’s stock market. Index “Such a title implies that they are and will remain exceptions,” the report states. “After all, how many pop stars or queens are there in the world?”
Similarly, the report claims that the media’s obsession with highlighting women who are the first to claim a particular achievement can inadvertently end up believing that it is their gender that makes them worthy of attention. , not their achievements and business knowledge.
How the Media Covers Women Executives
The report’s findings highlight the lopsided coverage of male and female executives in the media:
- Of the 600 print media interviews conducted in the past 30 months, only 13% were with female executives.
- About a quarter of the interviews with female managers discussed their gender.
- Stories are twice as likely to discuss women’s physical appearance than men’s appearance.
- Female managers are six times more likely than men to be asked about their private lives, such as their childhood and family.
All of this is in keeping with the well-known tendency that high-achieving women should go to interviews that unexpectedly engage in conversations about them. Appearance or relationship statusAnd get tips for talking about work-life balance.
One in a million
Some women may choose to back off when interviews veer into sexist territory. However, media attention to gender has potential professional aspects. The report notes that “female founders receive a lot of attention because of their special position, and this also opens up publicity opportunities”. It is also true that some women may be active in business. Want to discuss the impact of gender on their lives and professional paths.
The problem is that public discourse can, often inadvertently, imply that gender is the most important or interesting factor in a woman’s achievements. An overemphasis on gender not only serves to diminish the individual achievements of women. It can also make it more likely that women will remain rare in sectors or companies that congratulate themselves on placing a few high-powered women and thus make no further efforts to get involved.