Women and Leadership — Petra Hofstätter
For Women’s Equality Day on 26th August, we spoke to women across our network about their experiences and where they want the experience they’ve gained to take them in the future.
In this interview, we hear from Petra Hofstätter, Agency Lead of mediastrategen (part of media.at) at Dentsu Aegis Network Austria.
To be honest, it was never a big deal for me to be a woman in a leading position, but thanks for making me stop and think about it!
The first thing that comes to mind is that everything leads back to personality, education and socio-economic background. Speaking as a woman without children, I am not sure that I have a full appreciation of how hard it can be pushing to reach the top, with the wide range of challenges and issues women are faced with along the way.
It’s a simple fact that the media business is a more feminine industry, which is also reflected in Austria — after all 70% of our employees at Dentsu Aegis Network are female, but when it comes to leadership roles the situation is completely the other way around… but does it really matter to me? Not really!
In general, it seems to me that when people raise the whole issue of calling for more women in the workplace, it sounds to me as if they’re just trying to meet a quota and check boxes. Diversifying a variety of top positions, specifically executive roles, is more than a movement to level the corporate playing field, it’s about using the best resources to maximize an organization’s potential — this should be the key consideration, no matter which gender you are.
I don’t think the problem has ever been that women aren’t interested in leadership positions; the problem is that there are complex layers of barriers that prevent women from ever reaching them. For example, when a couple has two incomes and one is inevitably higher, the partner with the lower income is far more likely to take time out of work to raise kids or care for elderly parents. A closely-aligned topic to the number of women in leadership positions is why they are paid less for the same work. By giving women higher pay and equal pay to male colleagues, it makes them less likely to take career-breaks. This could mean that they will continue to work more quickly, increase their chances of climbing the career-ladder and shatter traditional gender roles. It would be careless to forget to mention that the social infrastructure (e.g. enough kindergarten places, government grants and schemes etc.) also has to pull its weight to enable women to achieve success.
But let’s get back to “personality matters”, which is the most important aspect from my point of view. There are lots of women out there who are well-educated, hardworking and reliable. They have the ideal background and personality traits to take on a leading role, but unfortunately many women tend to undermine their own efforts and achievements. Some women shy away from speaking about their accomplishments for fear of being seen as boastful or conceited.
Finally, I really want to make an appeal to all the ladies out there: be self-confident, speak up, be proud of your success and keep your head up high even though there might be barriers in your way or negative thoughts. Take control of them by becoming consciously aware of them and either replace them with more positive and encouraging thoughts or accept them and decide to move forward despite them.
If you really want it, you have to go for it!