Why do we like and like nothing

The Nahles Effect: Why Just Don't We Like Some Women?

The Nahles problem: a general problem for women?

Currently on the resignation of SPD parliamentary group leader Andrea Nahles, we recall an Emotion article from last year about a phenomenon that seemed puzzling to us, the Nahles effect. About the rejection of a confident woman.

"I do not get it. Why do people like - no, why don't women like Andrea Nahles? For the first time in its 150-year history, a woman is at the head of the SPD and nobody seems to be happy. Nahles was a successful minister of labor, she fought for the minimum wage, is considered a great boss, and political opponents speak of her with respect. Only with the voters, with the voters, does the politician fail. Their popularity ratings have never been good, currently they are just ahead of the boo men Seehofer, Lindner, Gauland.

"She's too aggressive for me"

Of course, one can argue that the SPD is not having the best time and that the party itself has clung to its "Boys Club" structures. But a short survey of Nahles among friends and in the office paints another picture: "Why does she have to give interviews in a clown costume?", "I found it embarrassing how she sang in the Bundestag", "She is too aggressive for me" , "It's so exhausting", "I just don't like it".

How can it be that all these comments have so little to do with your work? It is paradoxical: in no time has the longing for a more diverse image of women been greater. Regardless of whether in the cinema or in real life, nobody is up for the old role clichés anymore. In our campaign "What women ask for", 30 percent of those questioned speak out against outdated role models. The wish is honorable, but why do we find it so difficult in real life with women like Nahles - ambitious, assertive, not a bit dear?

We prefer people who are similar to us

"People are social animals. We used to live in small, homogeneous groups, so it had to be decided quickly who was friend and foe," says Dr. Laura Wendt, neuroscientist and responsible for diversity & inclusion at A. T. Kearney management consultancy. These automatisms still run subconsciously today. "That's why we prefer people who are similar to us," explains Dr. Laura Wendt.

This chameleon effect is the first obstacle for women. When men fill 80 to 90 percent of top jobs, "it is a challenge for women to find another woman with whom they can identify," says the scientist. As a result, we overloaded women in top positions with expectations: If there is ever one, please let it meet my expectations! "We forgive women less than men," says the US psychologist and author Phyllis Chesler ("Women's inhumanity to women").

The prototype of a boss? Still a man

How differently we evaluate men and women is shown by an experiment by Columbia Business School: Students were presented with the CV of Howard Roizen: Risk investor in Silicon Valley, who successfully founded tech companies, was Apple manager and was on the board of well-known companies, friends with Bill Gates. The students should say whether they think he is competent and would hire him. Everyone said: competent guy, we like him - of course he will be hired!

What the students didn't know: Howard's real name is Heidi. During the cross-check they found Heidi to be competent, but unsympathetic - no one wanted to hire her. What Howard interpreted as visionary and self-confident, Heidi valued as ambitious and vain. So the hardest currency for women is: they have to be liked - otherwise the path will not go any further.

"Because women like Heidi Roizen and Andrea Nahles stand against what we stereotypically consider female, they can hardly win," explains Dr. Laura Wendt. The prototype leader is still a man in our minds; We still expect women to be caring, social, and to spread wellbeing around them.

The queen must have everything: children, career, good looks

But then the cat bites its tail: to achieve that, we have to be nice, but if we are nice, we don't seem competent. This problem alone cannot be solved for the individual woman. The so-called "Triple Crown" has been added to the old stereotypes as a model for "modern" women: Only women who have all three points on the crown may feel like queen: children, career and good looks. Again, we're not enough: "She's great at work - but she doesn't have any children either."

Our aggressiveness is directed against other women

I can't believe that in 2018 we should still be above all meek, flawless and pastel colored. But since I asked myself the question, I have noticed many small situations in which we ourselves carry on our unattainable role model: only yesterday, when a friend disqualified her daughter as a "little know-it-all" when she explained the dinosaurs to me. I ask myself: Why don't we let this evaluate, judge? "Because women, like men, have internalized these sexist beliefs," says Phyllis Chesler. It's called "gender bias". Although both genders are basically the same, from cruelty to generosity, the range of behavior that is socially acceptable for women is tiny. "Often the aggressiveness that we are not allowed to act out turns against other women," says Chesler.

It seems absurd to me. "Being different scares women because it can always mean exclusion," says Chesler. Out of insecurity, women take over the sexism they experience? Yes. Like other discriminated groups, they pass discrimination on. "So it has to be said that slut shaming is a real problem," explains Dr. Laura Wendt. She knows from studies that women are very likely to gossip about attractive and casually dressed women, and even to bully them.

"Even in leadership positions, women sabotage one another," says Phyllis Chesler. This is mainly due to the competitive situation: The few places at the top for women are hard-fought. In truth, that is where the crux of the problem lies, the system is wrong, not us. Nevertheless, we have adapted. How much is shown even by successful women like Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg. When Mayer started at Google, she said, "I'm not a woman on Google, I'm a geek on Google." Obviously, she believed that it is better to distance yourself from your gender. Sandberg advises women to smile a lot, to behave as the system demands. Neither of these sounds like options that will help us in the long run.

Sisterhood means empowering women in their diversity

Andrea Nahles doesn't do any of these things. She talks about her difficulties as a single mother, shows feelings, including the "unfeminine" ones, and elbows, only smiles when she feels like it, and sometimes throws it when it comes to achieving her goals. She doesn't behave according to the rules of being liked. Isn't it something very good: authentic?

And instead of antipathy, does she not deserve quite the opposite: solidarity, respect, recognition for a different image of women? Mind you: Solidarity does not prohibit objective criticism. "Otherwise it will force us to submit to certain rules again," says communications expert McRobbie.

In the end, the sisterhood concept means supporting women in their diversity. Phyllis Chesler recommends: "Women should be aware of their diversity and appreciate it in other women." Angela McRobbie thinks that the quota is also a good tool for this: "If we were more, we would automatically be more different." Dr. Laura Wendt has the following tip: "I consciously no longer talk about the appearance of women, but about their skills." And I make up my mind to be aware of where I adopt stereotypes without questioning. Because if we understand why we do things, we can change them too. "

More solidarity among women and less stereotypes - these are also points that were discussed in the EMOTION campaign #WasFrauenhaben. Read a text by EMOTION editor Katarzyna Mol-Wolf about stereotypes and role clichés that still prevail in work environments that are dominated by men.

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