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Women and the CDU: "Do I really want to endure these power games?"

2021-10-13T18:45:39.378Z

In the reorientation of the CDU, women should have more influence. Personnel expert Petra Nieken explains why women in the CDU have had a hard time so far - and Angela Merkel is not enough as a role model.



Enlarge image

Reorientation of the party: who will succeed Angela Merkel?

Photo: Florian Gaertner / photothek.de / imago images / photothek

SPIEGEL:

After the election, members of the Union are calling for women to have more influence in realigning staff.

Why is the call for women only loud when things are not going well?

Petra Nieken: From a

social point of view, the call for women is currently louder everywhere, but some parties certainly have more catching up to do than others.

If the previous strategy was not so successful before the election, it is not surprising that people are now looking for new role models.

The CDU had a woman at its head for many years.

On the lower levels, however, this did not create such a pull effect that you could now lean back and relax.

SPIEGEL:

Why not?

Angela Merkel was a role model for many women.

Nieken:

Angela Merkel has shown that women can make it to the top in politics. We could also observe this with some politicians from other countries. But: It takes time to get into such positions at all. And these top politicians are so far only the exceptions, not every woman can identify with them. To do this, you need very different women at different levels. It doesn't help much if there is only one woman at the top, who is always referred to when asked about role models. Many women rightly ask themselves: Is this the path I want to go - and can I endure it?

SPIEGEL:

If I wanted to pursue a career in the CDU as a woman - would I have the best chance of success if I simply behaved more like Merz, Laschet and Co.?

Nieken:

I would not advise women who want to be in management positions to appear typically masculine.

That does not work.

We need a social change, a system change.

Because we know: women lead differently, even in crises, they are more risk averse.

SPIEGEL:

Those are stereotypes too ...

Nieken:

No, studies clearly show that women are more risk averse than men.

In addition, men are generally more willing to take on leadership positions, while women are less likely to volunteer for it.

In general, however, the following applies: We shouldn't bend over, we should change the system.

In the end, managers are about being authentic.

SPIEGEL:

During the election campaign, you saw how differently the candidate for chancellor was rated compared to the two male candidates.

Nieken:

We know from studies: Even if women and men say the same thing and send the same non-verbal signals, they are perceived differently.

Women who appear determined are often labeled as aggressive, while men are said to be assertive.

This is due to the pitch of the voice and the prejudice that women should be more cooperative and care more about social issues.

In the end, such stereotypes can lead women to take care of human resources and men to take care of finances.

SPIEGEL:

How do women manage to counteract these stereotypes?

Nieken:

It's very difficult on

your

own.

We have to work on ourselves as a society and repeatedly question these stereotypes.

And as a woman you have to let certain questions bounce back and make it clear that they are inappropriate.

For example the question of clothing or children: How I organize my private life is not part of the political agenda.

Men are asked about this much less often.

SPIEGEL:

In pictures of the CDU you can often see all-male groups.

Isn't it now a little unbelievable to try to attract more women all at once?

Nieken:

Better late than never.

Through movements like Fridays for Future, we see that many younger people want to be more politically active - and we have to give that freedom.

This is easier in some parties than in others.

Conservative circles use classic role models, which usually takes longer.

SPIEGEL:

Are women sawed off faster than men after making mistakes?

Nieken:

In research we already see evidence that women fall lower because they are more in focus. There are simply not that many successful ones, so the fate of a woman on the board of directors or in politics who did not make it is much more visible than that of a man. Women and men behave very differently in competition and take defeat to heart differently. Getting up again and again and trying again - that takes a lot of self-confidence. Especially when women are exposed to extreme malice on social media, they naturally ask themselves: Do I even want to express myself politically, is it worth it to me? Do I want to endure these power games? As a society we have to put a stop to this much more often and criticize clearly when a debate becomes sexist.

SPIEGEL:

How can a company or a party protect women from such inappropriate attacks?

Nieken:

There is training for companies to deal with stereotypes.

Only when I am aware that it exists can I do something about it.

If you want to change a corporate and party culture, you have to set an example of how things can be done differently, how men and women can work equally.

If you have had a child and are still breastfeeding it, it should go without saying that you can take it with you into the plenary chamber.

And family-friendly meetings and remote working are good not only for mothers, but also for fathers who want to look after children.

SPIEGEL:

A popular argument against quotas for women is that only competence should count, gender is of secondary importance.

Nieken: Of course

, it should be about skills.

But gender must not prevent you from being perceived as competent.

If women do not have certain avenues because they are not heard, that is a disadvantage that we need to remove.

To put it a bit more clearly: As a society, it is not particularly smart to label one half as incompetent.

Source: spiegel

All business articles on 2021-10-13

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