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From today no more

How often have I been silent when men have made disparaging remarks about women? Far too often. But is that the right strategy?


In poker, the poker face is a winning strategy. So far, I have used it when men have spoken disrespectfully about women in a professional context. This does not mean the objective consideration of a good or bad performance of a female employee or boss, but remarks like “What can you expect from a woman in this matter?” “It’s just blonde” “She probably only reacted that way because she had her period”.

No, these sentences were not uttered in the locker room of a fitness studio but in highly respectable meeting rooms and extremely prestigious offices.

So far, my reaction has been: poker face – ignore it and get back to the actual subject matter as quickly as possible. It made me uncomfortable and I wanted nothing to do with it. It was an attempt not to be seen as a “hysterical woman” but as “one of us”.

In retrospect, I realised, it was the wrong tactic. Silence is taken as consent. The poker face resembles defeat. Because one’s own reaction as a leader is observed and registered very closely by everyone else present.

Each time I did this, I made myself a bit smaller as a woman in the professional environment and I was not a good role model for other women who observe female leaders in particular very carefully on these occasions.

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The hope that men who make such statements and who are often themselves involved with wonderful women and have daughters who are at the beginning of a hopeful career can’t have meant it that way is idealistic and deceptive.

I have resolved not to tolerate it any more. Not for me, but also for all other women whom I want to see judged on their performance and personality and not degraded by completely unobjective, disrespectful comments. As of today, I am no longer silent about it.

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