Earlier this month Outbrain celebrated International Women’s Day by sharing some of our focus areas as we #breakthebias. This week, Tara Hassan our Global Marketing Manager, Publishers & Platforms talked to Tatjana Biallas, Managing Director at gofeminin.de and Catherine Ferguson, Director, Sales Integrations and Business Development, Global News and Radio at Corus Entertainment, leaders in publishing who are forging ahead and creating an industry where women can thrive.
So why all the fuss about women?
Why do we highlight the achievements of women over men? Well I hate to state the obvious but it’s because women are the ones who are disadvantaged. Even in the most forward thinking societies, we still treat women differently. In 2021, while the proportion of women in senior management roles globally grew to 31%, we are still seeing women earning only 82 cents for every dollar earned by men.
Historically, inequality of the sexes has meant that women have had to work harder to achieve the same opportunities, and that has continued in many industries today. “You can sometimes be put up against historical ways. Old structures and old thinking that have been in place for years.” said Catherine.
A major challenge that women face is obtaining senior positions in the boardroom. Once a woman becomes a mother, it becomes increasingly difficult to balance the obligations of parenthood and career, something that men don’t have as much of a challenge with. As Tatjana added, “it gets harder to climb the career ladder especially when you are simultaneously thinking about family planning and a lot of rather traditional firms and managers then put you as a second priority. I look around in the industry and I don’t see enough fellow women. And in Germany, there are significantly more white men in boardrooms. There needs to be a lot more women at the table.”
Girls just wanna have fun… and have the same opportunities as men.
Why do so many women feel the need to imitate men to be taken seriously? Femininity is just about the most undervalued power we know. It seems like the very idea of being feminine has negative connotations in our male centric culture. There are many forces that undermine feminine traits and the people who express them.
We’re starting to see an emerging trend where femininity is embraced, to be celebrated rather than being viewed as a weakness. To be taken more seriously or be viewed as a ‘strong woman’, women tend to embody masculinity. What people seem to forget is that masculinity and femininity are important, with strength in both.
Catherine added: “There is strength in vulnerability, you don’t have to be aggressive, or be someone else to be successful. We can be quite the force. We can be vulnerable but that doesn’t mean that we’re weak. If you’re in the wrong organization there is a good chance that you are going to struggle to get to the top. Be true to yourself to get to the top and don’t lose yourself in this mess of historical old ways that you can get caught up in.”
Encouragement and empowerment is key to challenging these issues, as Tatjana says, “from having a conversation where you encourage someone to go for a job, having a conversation with your manager, or even just complimenting people.”
It seems our world is rife with devaluing women and their abilities. People don’t mean to do this, it’s an unfortunate societal value that we’ve built out of years of historical oppression. However, the world has changed and so too should our attitudes towards and treatment of women. Paula Stone Williams says in her TEDTalk, “the more you’re treated as if you don’t know what you’re talking about, the more you begin to question whether or not you do in fact know what you’re talking about”. Words can certainly go a long way to restoring an equal balance between the sexes.
How can women in publishing stand out?
We all know women work hard, so what else can we do to be successful in this industry? Starting out as a woman in any industry will have its challenges, so Tatjana and Catherine provided some tips to succeed.
“I think building a network from day one, connecting other people, staying in touch, learning what other people’s needs are and responding to these. But the network also means you do something for someone else. Networking is more about how you help others than what you get back. The beauty of networking is if along the line you need something, then you’ll see the benefit from it.” – Tatjana Biallas.
Find your niche.
“I think you really need to make sure that within your organization and within your industry you have your spot. I tell everyone in my team, find your niche and the topics you’re passionate about and then start talking about them. Make sure you have the visibility so that it can live on, also while you’re on maternity leave.” – Tatjana Biallas.
“Be clear, be concise with your ideas and your messages. If there’s a problem, be the one to find the solution” – Catherine Ferguson
Don’t be intimidated.
Use your voice. I hope more organizations and teams empower women and let them be heard. And if someone isn’t listening to you, keep going, you don’t need to be aggressive, you can be kind and assertive.” – Catherine Ferguson
“In a male dominated world, women might believe they can’t ask for help, they think they need to work very hard for certain things but forget to take their own needs very seriously. Ask for help and the worst that can happen is you get a no and you just continue until someone says yes.” – Tatjana Biallas.
Where do we go from here?
Empowerment is the cornerstone of changing attitudes and societal values. Continuing to have these conversations and celebrating women will be invaluable to that. And most importantly, “be kind to each other and don’t make life harder. If someone else has an opportunity, be genuinely happy for them” according to Tatjana.
That goes for empowering everyone. After all, we’re all in this together, we all have battles, and we all face adversity. Some more than others. Let’s celebrate each other and remember that kindness will take us further than anything else.