Mission Female – the Book: 5 Questions To Frederike Probert

Why is it important to push for mixed leadership? Frederike Probert talks about the launch of her new book ‘Mission Female’ and explains how to make a lasting change, fight inequalities and help women become leaders

What was your motivation to write this book?

From my own experience, I know every pitfall and the obstacles that women face in their careers. I have worked in a wide variety of companies for 15 years, across all career levels and in various positions. There were always moments when I thought: “This can’t be true”! For example: During an internship, my male counterparts went to have a whiskey with our bosses. I, however, was condemned to do the filing next door. Even today, women find themselves in such situations all the time; they are passed over for promotions and are not taken seriously in meetings. I would like to do something about this and actively support women in making it to the top and not giving up on the way there. For this reason, just under two years ago I founded the career network ‘Mission Female’, in which women in leadership actively support each other and promote young females. In my book I provide concrete strategies to women of all career levels to help them become successful.

There are many career guides. What is special about ‘Mission Female’?

My book is divided into three crucial phases of a career: Entry level, middle management and top management. Each stage has its own special challenges, which I address specifically. In addition to my own experiences, I also give the opportunity to speak to numerous top female managers from my network. Douglas CEO, Tina Müller, has written the foreword and successful women, such as Susanne Aigner, Kasia Mol-Wolf and Dorothee Bär share their own personal advice. But anyone who believes that success lies solely in the hands of women is wrong. No matter how hard we try and how talented we are, if Thomas only promotes Thomas we have no chance of making a lasting change on the management level. That’s why I address the executive stages of companies in the same way. If you are serious about women in leadership, there are a few things you need to consider. This is where I come in and give clear, condensed instructions for action to all hierarchical levels. Put this book on the desks of your bosses – then they will learn something!

The German subline “Frauen. Macht. Karriere” could also be read as an imperative in the sense of: “Women, have a career (exclamation mark!)”. Was this a deliberate move? Is it really essential for all women to have a career?

Nobody has to have a career if he or she does not want one. What is noticeable, however, is that women are among the best in their year in schools and universities, are ambitious straight ‘A’ candidates and are ahead of the men in terms of performance. In companies, they suddenly mutate into well-behaved clerks, while the noisier, but not necessarily more competent colleagues, pass them by. That is why I would like to encourage women not to stop halfway. Be brave, show yourself and make demands! Right now is an excellent time to get off to a good start: More and more bosses of the older generation are retiring in the foreseeable future and out of the young ones who follow them, only 13% are still interested in a management position. The golf course generation is leaving, the time of women is coming. I have dedicated a separate chapter in my book to this topic.

Some young women claim that they see and experience no discrimination and therefore there is no need for ‘female empowerment’. What do you say?

I will let the numbers speak for themselves: 51% of women graduate from college and only 9.3% make it to the board. 58 of all 160 listed companies have set themselves a ‘zero quota target’ for their management boards in 2019. Many women are still paid less for the same job, work part-time more often and are more likely to end up in poverty at an old age. The structures remain discriminatory, even if some individuals do not want to admit it. Women experience a rude awakening when they are pregnant. Suddenly, the ‘nice boss’ is not so nice after all and it becomes clear, that the male is the one who will keep his career and the woman is supposed to take care of the home. Co- or part-time leadership and fathers on parental leave are of course omitted in this discussion. Unfortunately.

This book contains top women contributions – but also men have their say in it. Why is this important?

Equality is not a project that we can fight through alone. No woman can have a career if her partner is not supporting her – at least if they both want a family. Moreover, men still occupy most of the decision-making positions in companies – so we are dependent on their help. My book shows that male managers have also recognized the potential of mixed leadership. I myself had great mentors, who supported and encouraged me. In my book, I respectfully refer to them as “cooperative alpha dogs who help women move forward”. We need more of that too! I would really like to see that happen.

Mission Female‘Mission Female. Frauen. Macht. Karriere‘ was just released.

You can order it here.