Monthly Archives: November 2015

Female founders still missing

Nothing new: women rarely start a business compared to men. Nonetheless, the issue is topical again because of a newly published study this week.

Written by Jens Kuegler

The web portal regularly feeds journalists and bloggers with data, and so it did earlier this week. The figures come from a recently published report by the OECD. Among the 18 to 64 year olds in Germany only 31 percent of women felt principally capable of being their own boss. Among the men, however, 45 percent believed they had the necessary skills and abilities. By the way, the results for other countries were similar. Unfortunately, the statistics don’t tell us how the genders estimate the quality of each other’s skills and whether these estimations meet reality or not.

Clicking on, you will find further reports under the same keyword. I just want to briefly pick out two of them. One of these sounds at least somewhat more balanced, albeit still tending to male dominance. In 2014, the share of women among all founders was 43 per cent. “Founders” were defined as people who had started a business within 12 months prior to the survey.

Statistics number three leaves the gender imbalance much stronger. Here, the foundations of the years 2008-2010 were separated by industries and gender. As anyone may have expected, the traditional “male domains” and “women’s jobs” unabatedly prevailed. Almost 43 percent of all female start-ups were within the “personal services” (literally: serving people) and less than three percent in construction or manufacturing. Only around 20 percent of all men started their businesses in the personal services, but 40 percent in economic or trade services (women: 32%). Only in retail, both sexes were at quite the same level with 19 respectively 17 percent.

But back to the OECD figures from this week. There is not only a general shortage of skilled but obviously still a businesswomen shortage, too. However, there are many good reasons for women to establish their own plants, shops or trades. They are still hugely disadvantaged in salary and career opportunities and should shake off that unfortunate employee situation. In Germany, people with an immigrant background face the same disadvantage, but act differently: While women are reluctant in their majority and don’t feel brave enough, migrants have always outperformed twice the indigenous citizens’ founder’s rate in the recent years (which, incidentally, refutes the notion that the supposed strangers “take away our” jobs). Haven’t we discussed too many times about the reasons for the lack of female founders? Maybe not. But I just wonder how much longer we will.

Empfehlen Sie diesen Beitrag:

We Facebook tired faces

The example of the Danish study (“Happy Research Institute”) from the post last week  provides food for thought, but it is no surprise: Permanent media usage stresses out, occasional abstinence is good for us. But what do we do?

In the morning, half past nine. Jenny rushes from the bus station to the company without looking up a single time. Her face is shining pale in the light of the smartphone’s screen. All these network comments and status messages have to be answered. And all the Whatsapps, too, which constantly pop up. If not, Katja, Sammy and “he” might become impatient. After all, ou’ve got to be “there” for your friends!

As the office door flings open, Jenny immediately puts her phone away––Katja must wait––as the computer at Jenny’s workplace bursts of thousands of e-mails like every morning. No sender must wait long for the answer. The boss needs to get his “yes, immediately,” the customer shall read “… it’s on its way,” the spam should be deleted. The meeting just at 10? Jenny is totally nervous. That’s how the day begins. And sure it will continue that way.

Looking at people like Jenny––in other words, all of us––it can’t be any coincidence that the rate of burnout and disease failures increases proportionally to the electronic networking. No one feels more comfortable and relaxed than those few who have learned to switch off for abstinence sometimes. All that is preached like a mantra. Everybody knows it’s true. Yet hardly anyone seems to care.

There is one ancient golden rule from the good old days of relaxation which can not be repeated often enough: Man can focus on an activity only for 45 minutes. Then attention diminishes and fatigue increases. Therefore, school or driving lessons have always taken just 45 minutes. But how may it look like to divide up the work in three-quarters of an hour-units?

Start by turning off the phone. The mobile phone anyway––like in classrooms, cinemas or theaters. But the landline phone’s answering machine should be activated, too. For editing the the emails, there should be two or three slots at the morning and afternoon because no one expects an immediate response. Everybody would understand as there are justifications for absences such as meetings or errands. In many cases, employees may agree with their bosses at what times they must be accessible and when they are allowed to take time for undisturbed, concentrated work. If you’re not always achievable, you live more relaxed and work more productive!

For sure Jenny would be grateful for this in the long run. She’d be relaxed, fit and more successful. And what if she used her workplace PC one or two times a day for a few minutes on Facebook? And if she looked some short, funny YouTube videos together with colleagues? Dear employers: let her do it. That’s variety, relaxation and as important as the small smoking break. Trust her if she has always worked well––and might work even better. And not become sick as we all will …

Empfehlen Sie diesen Beitrag:

Good bye, Nine to Five

Regulated working hours? That was yesterday. According to recent studies, more and more Germans work at evenings, nights and weekends, too. And even in their spare time, they are more stressed than ever. A reason for that are the so called social networks that take the term “social” to the absurd.

Written by Jens Kügler

Always available: 29 percent of all Germans are accessible for their bosses in the after hours. This was revealed by a study which was well-intentionally named “Future Health” and carried out by the a health insurance together with a foundation called “The Health Workers”. And the sickening figures roundabout turns faster and faster: 26 percent of all employed persons regularly continued to work between 6 and 11 PM in 2014. In 1992, those were only 15 percent. The study revealing these results was also given a euphemistic name: “Quality of work – Making money and other things that count,” brought to us the Federal Statistical Office. 26 percent of all interviewed people said in 2014 they would also work on Saturdays and 14 percent on Sundays. Back in 1992 the weekend-too-workers were only 20 respectively ten percent.

Attention: the average workweek declined from 38.2 hours in 1992 to 35.3 hours in 2014! So is it all just whining? No: This “35-hour week” (the 35-hour week was a popular claim of Germany’s trade unions in the 1980ies) was only due to the many modern part-time jobbers. According to the Federal Statistical Office, their share doubled in the last two decades from 14 to 28 percent. And it does not help anyone to mention that the statisticians suggest a reason for the increase of part-time jobs in the longer store opening times. What about another long and tiring number? One in eight full-time employed persons work 48 hours or more per week. These are mainly the self-employed and the managers who thereby curtail their necessary leisure and regeneration time. Health? Compensation? Family? You have to set priorities …

Stop: A buzzword of today is flexible working hours. More and more companies leave it to their employees to decide when and even where they work. In the digital age, the office merges with the living room by notebooks, and the data is drawn from the cloud. What does that actually mean: Where once there were accurate attendance clocks, today there are endless working time accounts. Employee representatives warn that companies use the temporal and spatial freedoms solely for their own benefit––virtually for a worst-life balance. Nice for the sought-after Generation Y people who will have to work for a longer time in life because of demographic change. And who can already see today how the fifity-odds ruin their health in 48-hour weeks.

Speaking of Generation Y: Here once again take a look at the first mentioned study “Future Health”. Seven out of ten of the 14- to 34-year-olds found the past year more strenuous than the previous year. Almost two thirds felt stressed out often––and not just at and because of work: also for their family and friends they feel to have to be available almost every minute. Blamed among other things are the digital media like Whatsapp or Facebook. Can we conclude that these people would be happier without Facebook or Twitter? Hard to imagine, right?

Maybe yes! In Denmark there is a “Happy Research Institute”. The Scandinavians conducted a study in which 500 participants resigned Facebook for a week. At the same time, a similar group used the social network as always. What did the institute’s director Meik Wiking find out: The “offliners” felt more concentrated, wasted less time and were much happier with their social contacts in the “real” life. The reverse argument: For all but a handful of lucky ones who are able to switch off the smartphones or tablets, even leisure must be pure stress.

Empfehlen Sie diesen Beitrag:

Still a man’s world

From a male point of view, the world of work is still our world. We men get ahead, make our career and hardly get challenged by women. The women are still too nervous and poor-spirited to be dangerous to us.

Written by Jens Kügler (m)

Equality, women’s quota: Nothing of that caused a real revolution. Much has not changed in the social role play and not much will change, I guess. Just this: More than half of all high school seniors in Germany are women. Slightly more than half of all university places and almost half of all doctorates are in fine-boned female hands. But what about the management and leadership positions? And what does it look like in “our” technical professions? Hardly any female rivals. No reason to worry, man.

Women raise children and work part time. Where they are permanent, there’s a sign saying Secretariat, Team Assistant, Accounting or HR Department at the door. Boss’s positions? Possessed by men. Also, the entrepreneurial spirit is male. Just 13 percent of all start-up firms in Germany are founded by women. And if women start a business, it is usually only in their classical fields such as beauty salon, gift shipping or fashion studio. Those few women who actually make it into a male domain remain being exceptions and do not have to estimate that their customers will automatically expect the same expertise as from a male counterpart. Luckily for us: Neither the female car dealership owner nor the female building contractor becomes a mass phenomenon.

One of these few brave ones who compete with us men is Freya Oehle. Recently she wrote about the prejudices she is exposed to in the editorial blog of the social network platform Xing. Her’s is a highly technology-heavy company in the field of e-commerce. What she heard from investors were remarks like the puzzled “You’re a woman ?!”. These investors would also make inquiries about her technical expertise and the seriousness of her entrepreneurial intentions. Honestly, which––let’s say––average woman would really like to expose herself to situations like these? Most prefer to not even try!

When we see the chance to climb the social ladder, we men immediately take it and we are still the better self-promoters. Women are plagued by fears and self-doubts. Good for us men that only a few women are as much self-confident as we are! Anja Haufe of Your Success Counts remembers a personnel manager who once said: “Women apply only if they meet at least fifty per cent of the requirements. Men already apply if they can only read the ad”. In the economical magazine WirtschaftsWoche there was an article recently on the subject of how women always thwart themselves and their careers. I quote it almost literally: When in a job announcement they want somebody speaking Spanish fluently, women apply only if they are native speakers. Men, however, apply even if they have mastered little more than the phrase “Hola, qué tal?”.

Oh yes, women prefer to work with people. In the so-called STEM professions we men are the undisputed front and unchallenged. Equality, diversity––all this has developed much more slowly than many had hoped or feared. Meanwhile, the year 2015 comes to an end. So the second half of the second decade of the 21st century starts. Women still leave the field to us. And it is probably time that nothing changes … right?

Empfehlen Sie diesen Beitrag: