There is no such thing as Female Leadership

International Women's Day was just celebrated for the 109th time. At the same time started women's voting rights and the first admissions of women lawyers to universities and to the bar and judiciary. Today there are almost as many female graduates as male graduates. The future seems to be female.

But in fact, the proportion of female decision-makers on management and supervisory boards, in management roles in companies, in politics and in public offices has just started to decline again (the current figures are impressively presented by the auditing firm Warth und Klein in March 2020). It is time to think about another law on the mandatory quota of women: the FührungsPositionenGesetz (FüPoG), which provides for a half participation of women in management at least in companies managed by the federal government until 2025 (you can discuss this here).

Is there still a need for something like women's days and mandatory quotas for women today? And have they really been able to achieve anything in the last hundred years to bring about more equality?

In fact, these last hundred years are only a moment compared to the history of the systematic oppression of women by patriarchy. When a few thousand years ago people began to farm and raise livestock and settle down, the concepts of "possession" and "property" experienced an unprecedented boom. The right of the strongest established itself. Since then, power has measured itself against quantity; materialism and capitalism germinated - spurred on by the young religions. The patraichat, the rule of the fathers, was born with the consequence that since then man has been the measure of all things, women and girls have been systematically oppressed and exploited to increase quantitative growth.

Even today, the structures and processes for the deployment of executives are still made by men for men. They are therefore per se not suitable for attracting and deploying female managers. Rather, female managers are left out or "repaired" as being alien to the system. This in turn prevents a change in culture and values away from homogeneous, self-contained and non-self-regulating management teams towards an open, diverse and innovative management culture. Patriarchal power as the right of the strongest thus protects itself and knows how to use the levers of power.

A current example can be seen in the recently published special edition of the "Vordenker Magazin" Brandeins (01-03/2020) with top stories from the last 20 years on the topic of money "What do we do when everything is paid for". Of the 22 contributions, 19 are by and/or about important and powerful men in connection with money. One contribution reports on a debt counselling service run by a male-female team and 2 contributions are by a consultant and a law professor. All 3 contributions do not show any "powerful" or "important" female RoleModels on the topic of money: 20 male RoleModels, however, stand as experts on the topic of money in the last 20 years of the magazine. A tragedy. BrandEins is managed by a female editor-in-chief. Just like the legal format of WoltersKluwer LTO. The latter has even just been chosen as a role model for female lawyers by Breaking Through. In an interview with Breaking Though she has to confirm that there is still no equal share of male and female guest authors in LTO. She blames women's "shyness" for this, but without going into detail about how exactly she herself, as editor-in-chief at LTO, ensures an equal share of female authors (keyword: queen bee).

In fact, the excuse "we have not found a suitable female candidate despite an intensive search" is a blaming of the women. The so-called Gender Pay Gap supports this self-fulfilling prophecy.

If a company does not find a suitable candidate despite an intensive search, however, all the alarm bells should be ringing: the company or the management team has obviously failed to do so,

  •     adapt processes and structures to female managers and specialists,
  •     to shape a corporate culture with diversity and inclusion
  •     train suitable female junior staff accordingly

For if, conversely, gender were not the decisive factor, one would indeed have to consider not a minimum quota for women, but a maximum quota for men: from a purely biological point of view, intelligence and character are distributed relatively evenly throughout humanity. To employ predominantly men therefore means to consciously renounce intelligence and/or character in about 1/3 of the specialists and executives.

The obligatory quota of women thus forces companies to redesign structures and processes and thus to allow a change in values and culture. Women's Day, like Equal Pay Day, can highlight the fact that we still have a long way to go.

By contrast, gender studies and female empowerment programs have proven to be "well-intentioned" but not very effective.

"Gender studies" primarily support science that is shaped by patriarchy. So far, they have not even been able to show the gap in female data fed into artificial intelligence and its effects.

Participation in "Female Empowerment Programmes", which are designed to encourage women to climb the career ladder, carries a certain "stigma of disability". However, it is crucial that such programmes should motivate women to play by the rules in this male world (despite all the structural injustices), which is cynical. Consequently, these programmes include

  1.     either women who have recognised the structural barriers for female managers and are reluctant to do so, or
  2.     who doubt their leadership abilities.

In both cases, these are not the role models for leadership - but they are actually perceived by the public as the "typical female leaders".

Another question, however, is whether and how female leadership differs.

There are certainly the most diverse ideas and models of how leadership works. Leadership always has to do with values, personal talents, communication skills and of course the context of the existing system. And it may be that certain situations require above all negotiation skills, diplomacy and compassion, skills that are socially determined as "typically female". But it has nothing to do with gender. In my keynotes and lectures on leadership, I show this using classic leadership roles.

There is really no such thing as "female leadership". Leadership is gender neutral and is determined only by the personality of the leader and the surrounding system.

In times in which, after thousands of years, unrestricted quantitative growth at any price is increasingly losing its attractiveness, resources are finally appearing for the first time and the last patriarchal role models are meeting on the world stage for the last showdown, an alternative concept is urgently needed. Something different than before. It's a pity that on the political stage there is an abundance of older white gentlemen as the new "young leaders".

Leadership, however, does not need a new or gender-appropriate definition, but above all a modern value compass and diversity.

Only then can evolution succeed.


In this sense

yours, Dr. Geertje Tutschka

Lawyer for Germany and Austria

Managing Partner CLP-Consulting for legal professionals

Specialist for leadership and strategic development



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