Women all over the world face similar problems

Im aktuellen Jubiläumsjahr „10 Jahre Executive Trainings: Women and Cultural Change“ haben wir verschiedenen Menschen 10 Fragen gestellt. Unter anderem interessiert uns, ob Frauen und Männer die gleichen Chancen haben, wenn es um entscheidende Karriereentwicklungen geht. Nach neuesten Untersuchungen liegt der Anteil von Frauen im Vorstand deutscher Unternehmen nach wie vor bei unter 10 Prozent. Wir möchten einen Beitrag zu mehr Chancengleichheit leisten.

10 questions for Sedef Aygün

Ms. Aygün, which woman has left her mark on you?

Kuki Gallmann – she is an author, activist, conservationist, environmentalist, humanitarian who fight for Africa’s nature, especially Kenya’s development to improve women and childrens living standards. A true hero!
Prof. Türkan Saylan – a medical doctor specialized in leprosy, academician, teacher, activist, writer, most important founder of CYDD “Association for the Support of Contemporary Living“ a foundation which fight against childhood marriages and the education of girls especially in eastern regions of Turkey. She devoted her life to the development of young girls who are suffering from religious or traditional pressure, who have never been treated equal comparing to boys. She has opened countless schools in the poorest regions of Turkey.
Sabiha Gökcen – she was the first female fighter pilot of Turkey, first female aviator of the World; she has been a great role model to main women who followed her footsteps, despite the male hegemony.
Semahat Arsel & Suna Kirac – Board Members of Koc Holding who used their power and wealth for improving education level in Turkey, who found Koc University one of the best University in Turkey which provided bursaries to poor kids, Koc family members especially the women of family has played an enormous role in Modern Turkey’s social and intellectual development, and has carried on a radical role model role for women in conservative Turkey in especially early 1990ties.
And for sure Liz Mohn, I just finished one of her books (Key Moments). She is without doubt one of most valuable woman mentor of our times.

Have you ever questioned your professional role?

Yes, during maternity leave, I have questioned my professional roles, as well as my come back to the company.

Why do you think there are still more men than women on executive boards in Germany?

As someone, who comes from a male dominated country, I am really surprised to see that women in Germany are facing similar problems as in eastern cultures. This shows me, that despite of financial means, status, education, culture, etc. women all over the world face similar problems. Because of unequal roles manifested in mind sets of children, religious influences furthermore undermining women’s roles on a daily basis, plus I would add, strong women who have power to make changes in a business setting, have to play the door opener for other qualified women.

Do you think that women and men have the same opportunities when it comes to making significant career jumps?

Generally, men do have a tendency to favor men when it comes to significant promotions, as men are still viewed as the stronger gender. Women are fit for demanding positions. The problem is, since there are still only few women in high ranks, the shift is happening, if at all, very slowly. Only, if women start more and more to support each other, almost like a ‘sisterhood-band’ balancing out the ‘old-boys-club’ mentality, a change will happen.

Do we need more women in management positions?

Yes. In order to balance power, create diversity within companies and be fair among both genders, we need to strive for about equal numbers of men and women in management positions. Affirmative action through official regulations and company policies eliminating disadvantages for women are needed to achieve this goal.

Do you think it’s possible to meet familial and career demands in equal measure?

Unfortunately, the classical role of women being the prior care-takers of the family is still present. Therefore, a shift of this cultural mind set is urgently needed. This can only be achieved with a collective approach of men and women equally taking responsibilities within the family. In order to achieve this, girls and boys have to be raised up equally from the beginning of their childhood, at the end what we seed is what we get …

Do you think it’s easier for men to combine family and career?

For the reasons stated above, men in general still take fewer responsibilities within the family than woman, resulting in more time for them to concentrate on their careers.

Have you ever passed on a career opportunity for family reasons?

Temporarily yes, because I have three little kids, for each of whom I had to take maternity leaves. After taking these breaks, I realized that for the sake of my own fulfilment in life, which reflects on the happiness of children too, I wanted to continue with pursuing my career.

Do you think digitalization represents an opportunity for women?

With many tasks now being completed digitally, enables women as well as men to be more fluid, when scheduling activities. The eminent need of being physically present in certain locations such as company offices, meeting spaces, etc. is decreasing more and more with the rise of technologies. Especially mobile devices have made a huge impact on the way business is done. The disadvantage of the rise of these technologies for women however is, that they have to be always reachable. Nowadays, speedy responses are considered the normal, which can put even more pressure on women juggling family and career.

Do you think that companies should do more to support women in their careers?

Granting more home office opportunities, providing qualitative day care facilities within company premises, implementing equal pay policies to create motivation are needed to support career-oriented women.

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