On their way through life, men are rarely confronted with the same challenges and demands for sacrifice that women are, especially in the male-dominated business world. As a society, we have made progress in LGBT rights, same-sex partnerships and our thinking about what gender is. Meanwhile, the very basic differences between men and women in the workplace are not discussed. Sometimes, it feels as though this imbalance will last for decades to come.
Instead of finding excuses and trying to solve the problem from a male perspective, listening would be the first step in this long overdue process of achieving gender equality.
Faraja Nyalandu (TZ) is the founder and Executive Director of Shule Direct based in Tanzania, where the tech industry is a very male-dominated sector.
“I had to prove myself so much more than I typically would have. I take it as a challenge. I think the biggest thing for me is: ‘If I don’t do this right, it is not just about me, it’s about so many other women who also have to overcome the same obstacles.’”
Nanxi Liu (US) Until she was five, Liu lived in a rural village in China without running water. Today she is the CEO and Co-Founder of Enplug, a company that produces software for digital displays.
“When I speak in meetings to potential investors, I am always talking numbers. I know that when I go into a room with my male colleagues potential clients always look at my male colleagues, even if I am the CEO. Instead of having immediate credibility if I were a guy walking into the room, I don’t. Yet I may only have 30 seconds to build my credibility with that investor.”
Heben Nigatu (US|ET) is a writer for the Late Show with Stephen Colbert and was named 2016 one of Forbes 30 under 30 in Media.
“I feel I become way more aware of how I speak and how I enter a room. Men take up space. I’ve noticed how they take up space both physically and with their voice. They speak in definitive sentences: There is no up-check at the end.”
Susanne Ruoff (CH) is the first female CEO of the Swiss Post. She got her job after making her way past a long list of around 200 competitors.
“I don’t really believe in cultural differences between men and women. What I see is our different roles in society. If you are, for example in Switzerland, we have a very traditional way of thinking. It’s a clear-cut partnership between man and woman, often the woman stays at home when the kids are small.”
Diana Kinnert (DE) is a German politician for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). She also cofounded the news platform “NewsGreen.”
“I am always thinking of who I am with all my characteristics, I have the perspective of a young person, of a digital-native, of a young woman being a girl and maybe I don’t have so many role models like boys have.”
Samar Samir Mezghanni (TN) published her first book when she was ten years old. She was selected as one of the 17 United Nations Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals.
“If I were a man, the road would have been clear and straight for what I am doing. But because of my gender I had to make a lot of detours to get where I want to be. It didn’t necessarily make me slower, but I think it made me smarter.”
Rachel Haurwitz (US) was on the Forbes list as 30 under 30 and in 2016 40 under 40 on the Fortunes list and is the President and CEO of Caribou Biosciences.
“I don’t think I’ve changed anything. I think I went in with my eyes wide open, knowing that I was going to be different often for my gender, but didn’t want to sacrifice who I was.”
Aya Kimura (JP) is a master’s degree candidate at the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Public Policy. She wrote an essay for the Symposium entitled “No More Curators at Public Museums will Mature Society.”
“Many museum specialists tend to be women, but at the same time, at the administrative or director level there are many more men. It’s the same in my studies: We have many more female students, but they are not always going on to be professionals. Often it happens that they study culture and go into the household. If only one part of society or of an organization is dominated by women, things won’t change.
Shira Kaplan (IL) is the Founder & CEO at Cyverse AG and spent two years as a sergeant in the Israeli Army.
“The mother who is in business is making a big sacrifice, because she is sacrificing time with her children, and that is irreplaceable. The role of a father is different, because he is expected to be there sometimes and sometimes not.”
Hadil Al-Sawadi (PS) is Gaza’s first female entrepreneur and the co-founder of Davinci Box in Amman.
“As a woman, I am working to be strong, to have my own business, my own company, to reach my dream and to be a role model for other women.”