EuropeanPWN – Frankfurt

From 50:30:10 to 50:50:50


EuropeanPWN – Frankfurt extends a warm appreciation to Dr. Elisabeth Kelan, who fresh from presenting at the annual Women’s Forum in Deauville, visited the network in Frankfurt to share her work which highlights the benefits that teams with diversity within them bring to innovation and the importance of making stereotypes visible in the workplace.

The 50:30:10 rule

Elisabeth started by explaining the 50:30:10 rule. While men and women enter organisations in equal numbers, the number of women drops in mid and senior management to 30 and 10 percent respectively. Elisabeth then talked about her study on innovation. It is the first of its kind to sample teams with different proportions of men and women and to link the team’s gender diversity to its ability to be innovative. The study found that teams with 50:50 ratios performed better on various innovation indicators, making a clear business case for gender parity in teams. Read the full report

This raises the question of why 50:50 is so difficult to achieve. It appears that we are bound by stereotypes. Read the full article

Elisabeth stressed the importance of becoming aware of gender stereotypes and making them visible, to overcome them. Making gender stereotypes visible is crucial for achieving more balance in management positions. In order to overcome the 50:30:10 rule, and to move to 50:50:50, understanding stereotypes is vital.

Gender Fatigue

Elisabeth also talked about something we all need to be aware of and what she has termed as Gender Fatigue, whereby some people are simply fed up with the discussion about gender discrimination. Gender discrimination appears to be overcooked and tends to leave a nasty aftertaste for some, who fear being labelled as troublemakers or worse still, feminists, if they address the issue. This is now a very common perspective in society. It is important for a new network to be aware of this voice of dissent within the system and to work with it rather than to try and push it away. Rather than accepting Gender Fatigue it is important to show how gender matters in the workplace.

The evening cumulated in a discussion about the research presented in which some of the following questions were touched on:

  • Is it appropriate to affirm stereotypes to male colleagues?
  • Do women unwittingly communicate in a manner which sounds like noise to their male colleagues?
  • Can being grounded within yourself support you in overcoming stereotypes – simply because they don’t really bother you?
  • Is there a Queen Bee/Princess syndrome – whereby other women are viewed as competition and are therefore not sources of support?
  • Is the perception of a feminine style and a masculine style in itself not a stereotype?
  • Is it not more a question of simply being yourself and being authentic?

Many of those questions warrant separate discussions and EuropeanPWN-Frankfurt will explore further to see how we might use this input in future events.

“Differences challenge assumptions”Anne Wilson Schaef

Marie Clair Williams
President EuropeanPWN Frankfurt


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