Written by Janka Hegemeister
Does the 'right' approach in their job really help women to get ahead? This question was the focus of a fifth networking evening of the HBA Europe chapter Berlin and Brandenburg division. The guest speaker, Dr. Isabelle Kürschner of the Catalyst research organization, dispelled the typical career myths and recommends women to make themselves as visible as possible in their companies. Andreas Fibig, head of Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, opened the event and emphasized how important women were as employees of the company: "Companies are competing over talent on a global scale and if we want to be able to hire the best people we have to offer an attractive work place. If we neglect the female potential, we are losing out on half of our talent pool as an organization." A short introduction of the HBA by Ilona Muráti-Laebe, D&I advisor at Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals and local coordinator Berlin, was given in the following. Ilona also welcomed the evening's speaker, Dr. Isabelle Kürschner of Catalyst, the largest organization in the world for research into women's careers. She presented the latest Catalyst study: 'The myth of the ideal worker.'
Catalyst has been following career-oriented female and male MBA graduates from leading business schools in a long-term study since 1996. The current survey looks at 3,350 women and men in North America, Europe and Asia who have held full-time positions in their companies ever since graduating. The focus is on the assumption that employees – irrespective of their gender – have the same career opportunities if they use the right strategies for their career planning. This includes belonging to influential networks, open communication on personal career goals, making their own successes visible and the search for challenges – to mention just a few. The result shows that these strategies are primarily successful for male employees. Women do not achieve their goals in this way or only at a much slower pace, according to the study.
The study shows that the career ambitions of men and women are not fundamentally different. Despite this, women who apply for higher positions just as actively as their male counterparts have fewer opportunities: 24 % of the men and only 12 % of the women had achieved senior executive level at the time the survey was conducted. While women received just as many project assignments as men, the projects are usually less prominent and important for the company. But the study also shows that women who pursue the relevant career strategies are significantly more successful than women who dispense with them. This is why Isabelle recommends all women to advance their careers by making their achievements known and gaining access to influential and powerful networks and colleagues.
A lively discussion followed Isabelle’s presentation. After the discussion round, many guests continued debating and networking in small groups.