What does it mean to be in the eye of the media as a female manager – and how do prejudices and misconceptions shape the public view of women in charge? Those are the questions that Hering Schuppener Consulting, specialised in communication consultancy, asked in their recent study “Die Ausnahme, die Rabenmutter, die Kämpferin”, engl. The exception, the Bad Mother, the Fighter (available in German here). They took a close look at how preconceptions of what a leader should look like and how they should behave are distributed over media outlets over and over again. The result: Women in leadership positions are still perceived as “extra-ordinary”, outside from what is normal and “natural”.
As an interviewee for the study, I got to reflect on how I’ve been portrayed in media throughout my career – and how that has influenced the public’s view on me as somebody who is very straightforward and tough. I believe this view also affects how journalists perceive and then portray my current work as a gallerist: Rather then focusing on the art and the artists, the articles on the opening of my gallery highlighted my “exotic” role as a Chief Financial Officer turned gallerist.
My advice for young female managers finding themselves in similar situations? Complete a media training to be prepared, make sure to receive any personal quotes for approval before they are printed – and feel free not to answer questions that you don’t want to answer. Instead, define for yourselves which topics you’re comfortable with and want to be known for – and speak about them!