Sabine Gromer at the Bayer International Women's Day event

Every day is World Women’s Day as long as structural inequalities exist. These inequalities must be solved together – by women and men, business, politics and society. Bayer, together with its CEO Lieven Hentschel and the three guest speakers Britta Bürger, Sabine Gromer and Heidrun Kopp, highlighted the topic of equal opportunities on International Women’s Day.

Bayer has set itself clear inclusion and diversity targets and aims to raise the average gender ratio across all combined management levels in the Group, including lower and middle management, to 50/50 by 2025. At Bayer Austria, the proportion of women in management is already balanced at 69 percent.

In three parallel virtual rooms, the speakers gave impulses. Heidrun Kopp, founder of the Institute for Sustainable Finance, addressed the topic of Women & Finance, Sabine Gromer, founder of the management consultancy MagnoliaTree, spoke about Stereotypes, Role Models & Beliefs, and Britta Bürger, Medical Advisor and Medical Information Officer at Bayer Austria and formerly a gynecologist, addressed Women’s Cycles in the Workplace.

We need pigeonholing

Because it saves us an incredible amount of energy. Studies show that we are on autopilot for 80 percent of our day. However, we must be aware that our behavior is always a combination of our personality AND the environment in which we live. The more bias there is in the environment, the more our behavior is influenced by it. And this not only clouds our view of others, but our own performance can suffer as well. This Stereotype Threat is made up of unconscious and systemic biases. And it can have devastating consequences. Sabine Gromer explains the Stereotype Threat using the example of women in the world of work: Young women try to assimilate themselves into the world of work in phase 1 “Defense” by imitating male behavior. In phase 2 “discouragement”, women become aware that they are constantly exposed to prejudice. As a result, they often make their self-worth independent of professional success, orient themselves outside the company in the form of family or hobbies, but also internalize their frustration and anger. In phase 3 of “resilience,” it is particularly important for women to focus on their femininity. Often, a break with the company occurs here; women start their own business, for example. What can be done to counteract Stereotype Threat? Point 1: Examine your own beliefs and track down possible unconscious and/or systemic biases. Click here for Harvard and Bayer’s self-tests. Also helpful and entertaining: the Pixar Purl video on You Tube. Point 2: Create an environment where female leadership is accepted. How to do that? Explain the dynamics of stereotype threat to young employees and explicitly state that tasks can be done equally well by all.