“Fempower Your Career”! – 5 Questions to Dr. Simone Burel

We asked 5 Questions to Dr. Simone Burel, the founder and managing director of LUB GmbH, on the start of the FATALE University and how to push forward your career

You want to promote women’s careers with an online program. Why do they need ‘tutoring’ and what would you have to teach men in contrast?

Tutoring sounds too negative and too passive to me as we don’t want to lecture women and we don’t want them to catch up on things they missed or didn’t understand on their own. Rather, we want to empower or as we say “fempower” them. Our aim is for women to develop their full potential, to be self-confident in their abilities instead of hiding them. And it’s not only women, but also young men, who suffer from the role clichés and stereotypes that still persist in many places. People don’t want to be authoritarian, dysfunctional doers à la Trump, but open and emphatic colleagues – that’s beneficial for everyone. Therefore, we should stop using empty phrases that perpetuate such stereotypes.

What courses are taught at the FATALE University?

At FATALE University we teach ambitious women how to successfully position themselves, using the most innovative blended learning concept that’s currently available on the market. For this purpose we developed scientifically-based modules on various topics, such as Mindset, Personal Branding, the Perfect CV, Female Finance, Female Leadership and many more. These modules are our digital ‘brain’, because we have incorporated the most important and most popular contents from our workshops, lectures and coaching sessions, as well as my specialist books, including the recently published ‘Female Leadership’ – ‘Frauen in Führung in der digitalen Arbeitswelt’. The aim of all modules is for women to break down their mental barriers, learn to stand up for themselves and ultimately become more successful. Therefore, our motto is: Fempower your career!

You talk about female leadership. How is it different from male leadership?

Leadership in general has, so far, been associated mainly with qualities such as dominance and self-confidence – qualities, that are typically attributed to men. This has been known as the think manager, think male phenomenon for a good thirty years now – regardless of whether or not it corresponds to reality. Female leadership means, that women are just as self-confident and self-evident as men when it comes to contributing their potential and professional success to the management of companies. We urgently need incentives to get more women into leading positions. Leadership must be treated as a tangible skill and internalized as early as possible in the lives of young women. Unfortunately, this has not yet been implemented everywhere, but the picture is shifting, as a result of digitization and Working World 4.0. Fortunately, digitization is enhancing social and communicative skills and making empathic and intuitive language more valued – in other words, precisely the qualities that are women’s strong suits and that make a good leader. Luckily, the boss type of the male ‘alpha’ is a discontinued model. Today we know: Leadership needs empathy and dialogue. This is also called emotional agility and women are usually very good at it.

The special thing about your approach is the focus on language and linguistics. To what extent can this be a tool to ultimately change reality – and why are we still underestimating it?

First of all, we should realize that language is not only a means of exchanging factual information, but it creates relationships and worlds of meaning, both for the sender and the receiver. Language is our human super power and the tool, which people have always used to make a change, because language shapes the way we think and human perception. Conversely, thinking is reflected in language. This is why it is such an important starting point for influencing our mindset and our careers. For example, when I always talk about the fact that I will “eventually move up” or “stay in science”, it is somewhat vague. “I would like to become a manager, group leader or professor”, on the other hand, are quite different linguistic anchors that concretely influence my way of thinking. Many well-educated women do not talk about the prizes, awards or deals they have won, but rather devalue their achievements, tend to attribute them to the team. This communicative strategy is called downgrading. This attitude runs through all industries and affects both old and young generations of women. Behind it all is a long-established pattern of thinking, that women should stay in the background and not brag about their achievements. This needs to be overcome, and it can be done by changing the language – because this also changes mechanism of downgrading. It makes a big difference, for example, if I say, “I could imagine giving the presentation, perhaps” or “I’ll give the presentation.”  This is what we are uncovering at FATALE University. Language also plays a crucial role in leadership.

Which cliché can you no longer stand anymore in this context?

The stereotype, that women talk a lot without saying anything and men get to the point faster gets on my nerves – especially since it’s not true at all: Gender linguistics cannot prove that women really do talk more. Nevertheless, expressions such as ‘Klatschtante’ (‘gossip aunt’) persist, whereas we search in vain for a ‘Klatschonkel’ (‘gossip uncle’). By the way, this example shows us once again the connection between the language and thinking! Even expressions, such as ‘girls’ or ‘women’s issue’ suggest that there is a homogeneous group of women, who have a specific way of acting. This is not true, because just like men, all women are different and each of them is unique. This knowledge about the possibility to value one’s own individuality and to strategically bring it to bear for oneself is what we teach at FATALE University.

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