Author Archives: Angie Weinberger

Guest Blog by Morgane A. Ghilardi

So, I was an 18-year-old BA student, had just gotten both my first apartment – a tiny studio in a slightly scary neighborhood –, and my first real, paid job – with a slightly scarier boss. Life had suddenly gotten very serious; being fiscally responsible and self-sufficient was no longer reserved to adults.

It took me a while to adjust to the situation, as the reality of being in charge of prp_working-mom-300x300.jpgutting food on the table, paying rent, and what seemed like an unreasonable amount of bills – don’t even get me started on Billag – was completely overwhelming. Nonetheless, I remember thinking to myself that I was the third generation in a family of strong women who have always been in charge of providing not only for themselves, but also for their families.

Although that thought is a comforting reminder of the determination and strong desire for independence that runs in the family, it has also been a source of anxiety. My great-grandmother and grandmother left France to live and work in Switzerland, while my mother was born in Zurich in the 1960s. In spite of speaking two of the national languages, all of them faced adversity for being foreigners.

And of course, they all experienced a Switzerland in which women were still expected to adhere to traditional gender roles, even after being granted the right to vote and access to the political sphere on a federal level in 1971. All of them had to work hard with less (if any) chances of promotion and lower wages than their male equals, while also providing for the family.

Husbands and fathers were not a constant in that equation – though not always by choice –, which is why I always saw these women’s autonomy as an extraordinary achievement considering the context of Swiss culture. However, I am also very aware that life has been neither easy nor fair to them. How does my life compare to that?

Now 24 years old and nearing an MA degree in English and Gender Studies, I recognize both my privileged position and the challenges ahead. While I am grateful for the education and professional opportunities I’ve had so far, I still see that these are strange times for working men and women in Switzerland.

Gender roles, which are deeply connected to economic and social structures, are still being negotiated and tested; we experience that in everyday life. Stay-at-home and part-time working dads and husbands are not an accepted norm yet. In the media, we witness a discomfort towards women’s claim for equal opportunities, as it is spun into some kind of epic battle of the sexes or an attempt to drown out the voices of men who also are struggling in this fast-changing society.

Looking at both women’s past and future as providers, it is obvious that we have been navigating uncharted waters, and that won’t change for some time. But if we just keep in mind that we have the right to ask for support and acceptance, that this is a path that we tread as a collective but also as individuals, we never need to feel like we have to apologize for being overwhelmed and apprehensive at times.

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Morgane A. Ghilardi, MA students at the University of Zurich & editor at Adwired AG 

Twitter: @MorganeGh

LinkedIn: Morgane A. Ghilardi

 

Guest post by Martijn Roseboom

Let me start off with introducing myself, I am Martijn Roseboom, 39 years old, married to ‘Bee’, father of a 6 year old girl and 4 year old boy. Since moving to Switzerland I have been a full time stay-at-home dad.

These days most people meet and get married within their social circles. This is the case for us. We met during University where I was studying business economics and my Bee was studying Medicine. I recall discussing for the first time, who would be the breadwinner, as students having some drinks in a bar. When I found out what a doctor is expected to earn and compared this to my own financial prospects, I asked Bee what she planned to do with all of her money. It seemed an awful lot for shopping. The underlying and never questioned assumption underneath was that I would be the breadwinner of the family and take care of all the bills. Bee thought that this was absolutely ridiculous. For me this was one of the core beliefs of what was expected as being a man, and never had imagined otherwise. That was the start of an interesting evening full of (alcohol fueled) heated discussions.

Since leaving University and starting work, we always have been competitive (me mostly) about who would earn the most. In practice we agreed that we would both bring in 50% of the income. When moving abroad for our first international assignment, I had to give up my job and we agreed to combine all our income together. As the ‘trailing spouse’ in Singapore, without a job, I could not do anything without my wife’s signature. This led to the practical situation where I ‘adopted’ my wife’s last name and this was also clearly stated on my credit card and all other bills. This was the ultimate reversal of the concept that I had as a man and being the breadwinner. All of this changed again back to ‘normal’ when I found a job in Singapore. However now that we have moved to Switzerland, I find myself in the same situation, except that this time I at least can use my own last name and can prove this with my credit card.

Whilst it is more common to see that nowadays there are more female breadwinners out there, it is something that remains frowned upon. Whilst on a family level, this is clearly the best way forward for all of us, it is still sometimes challenging. The biggest challenge is the stereotype I have that the man needs to be the breadwinner of the house. This leads to not always appreciating the opportunities it brings. The best thing is being an integral part and see the kids growing up. The only thing I miss is more men in the same situation. It remains socially frowned upon for a married man to ask another woman out for a drink. Even if it is coffee and there are kids running around all over the place. Let’s hope this will be a normal way for dad’s to spend their mornings in the future.

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Martijn Roseboom, President Partner Committee International Dual Career Network (IDCN)

LinkedIn: Martijn Roseboom

Disrupting The Default: On Being a Female Breadwinner in Switzerland

by Susan Platt

When my husband and I started talking about raising a family a few years ago, he proposed to become a SAHD. He had moved from California to Switzerland to be with me and I had been the main source of income as well as the financial manager in our relationship from the get-go.

As I have always been passionate about work, this set-up suited us both and him transitioning into assuming a larger domestic role once we had a baby seemed natural. So when that little blue line on the pregnancy test hit the plus, we were pretty well prepared on the home front.

Work wise – however – the timing was less than optimal. I had just left a steady but bland employment in a large law firm to accept a position in a not-for-profit animal rights foundation and was in the first week (!) of a trial period when I found out I was expecting. Talk about bad timing… Luckily, the guys I worked for were very understanding about my pregnancy.

Although I had accepted this position at 100% when I started out, I knew that having zero family time with my baby girl during the workweek was not something I could – or wanted to – handle. So I negotiated an 80% quota with two afternoons off during the week upon my return to work and promised to come in on those days in case of emergencies. Turned out that the emergencies could wait at least half a day most of the time…

In the following years, my desire to grow professionally saw me evolve into increasingly more executive positions. However, none of those employments came with a ready-made solution for a working mother. But they did come with superiors who were willing to try out a more flexible work model when I proposed it to them.

Mind you, I had to color outside the lines and fib about my work capacity being 100% to get an interview in the first place. But I found out that once I was given an opportunity to demonstrate that a little flexibility can go a very long way, I was able to always put my family first in crucial situations and to strike a balance between spending enough time with my family and still deliver great results at work.

Our daughter is going to be 10 this summer and we have a great rapport. Over the last few years I continued to work in an 80% capacity and my husband at a 35% capacity, which has panned out really well for all us.

Did I encounter prejudice and bias for being the primary breadwinner during that time? You betcha. I still do. But I never let that anger or deter me from doing what I felt was right to be able to pursue the path that I considered healthy both for me and my family.

 

At one of my earliest Powerhouse Events Tabi Haller Jorden, then General Manager at Catalyst Europe, spoke about gender attitudes in the workplace. One of the participants complained about the lack of opportunities for working moms in Switzerland. They claimed, that other European countries such as Sweden and Denmark were a beacon in the dark nether world of employment seeking working moms while Swiss employers were a bunch of Neolithic troglodytes basically still clubbing their female staff over the head with their rigid and outdated work models.

Of course my inner Heidi was not amused.

Because, I think that this statement is only marginally true.

While I agree that many Swiss companies are still quite conservative in their work conditions, there are many willing to adapt. But they need Change Agents. Linchpins.

Let’s step up and disrupt the default.

Game. On.

The Take Away

  • Don’t be disheartened if the perfectly fitting job opportunity does not present itself on a silver tablet.
  • Be bold and apply for positions and companies that appeal to you and see if you can make them fit.
  • Don’t accept the status-quo as set in stone – be ready to Disrupt the Default
  • Keep on rocking

 

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This a guest blog on our Female Breadwinner series by Susan Platt. She is the Managing Director of a family office (MFO) in Zurich, a reluctant blogger (SwissBizChick.com), a mom, a wife, a board member of the Powerhouse Network for Women, a techie, Paleo eater and dog companion. She lives with her family in Zurich.

 

 

 

 

Interkulturelle Kompetenz ist ein Zauberwort in der Managementliteratur. Als interkulturelle Coaches und Trainer folgen wir Modellen und halten uns auch über die Forschung auf dem Laufenden. Häufig fällt mir auf, dass oft Grundbegriffe nicht klar sind. Daher hier der Versuch einer Einführung (ausnahmsweise auf Deutsch).

Was ist eigentlich Kultur? – Kulturbegriffe und Forschung

Kultur ist ein grosses Wort und umfasst mehrere Konstrukte. Wir helfen uns daher in der Vermittlung interkultureller Kompetenz häufig mit Analogien wie dem Eisberg, der Zwiebel und der Sonnenbrille. Erläuterungen finden Sie bei Uehlinger (2012).

Alternativ stellen wir gerne Vergleiche aus dem Bereich Obst und Gemüse an, wie das Pfirsich- und Kokosnussmodell. (Schweizer wären hierbei tendenziell in der Sparte Kokosnuss einzuordnen mit einer harten Schale und weichem Kern, während Amerikaner eher in die Kategorie Pfirsich passen.)

Wissenschaftlich fundiert sind diese Vergleiche nicht, aber sie helfen „Anfängern“, sich die Herausforderungen im interkulturellen Kontext besser vorstellen zu können. Die wissenschaftliche Basis sind dagegen die Festlegung und Definition von Kulturstandards, d.h. Normen und Werten einer Kultur.

Definitionen von Kultur

“Culture is the software of the mind.” G. Hofstede

“Culture is the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one human group from another.” G. Hofstede

„Kultur ist ein dynamischer Prozess des Lösens menschlicher Probleme in den Gebieten: menschliche Beziehung, Zeit und Natur.“ A.F. Trompenaars

“Culture is the way in which a group of people solves problems and reconciles dilemmas.” E. Schein

“Kultur ist das komplexe Ganze, das Wissen, Überzeugungen, Kunst, Gesetze, Moral, Tradition & jede andere Fertigkeit & Gewohnheit einschließt, die Menschen als Mitglieder einer Gesellschaft erwerben.“ Edward B. Tylor

Klischees

Klischees können humorvoll gemeint und trotzdem verletzend wirken. Sie beginnen normalerweise mit pauschalen Aussagen wie:

  • „Die Deutschen haben keinen Humor.“
  • „Die Italiener lieben vor allem ihre Mutter.“
  • „Alle Amerikaner sind laut und oberflächlich.“
  • „Der Inder an sich kann nicht selbst kochen.“

Häufig spielen dabei persönliche Erfahrungen eine Rolle. Das Klischee mag zwar auf einen Grossteil der Menschen zutreffen, spiegelt aber häufiger eher eine subjektive Wahrnehmung des Sprechers, beeinflusst von seiner kulturellen Prägung, wider. Seien Sie daher vorsichtig mit Klischees. Wir nutzen sie häufiger bei der Suche nach gegenteiligen Beweisen oder um uns selbst aufzuziehen („Als Deutsche brauche ich eine Agenda und einen Zeitplan.“).

Vorurteile

Vorurteile sind immer negative Aussagen über Menschen anderer Kulturen. Häufiger werden Sie Vorurteile von Menschen hören, die wenig oder gar nichts über die Menschen der anderen Kultur wissen. In die Kategorie der Vorurteile gehören auch alle negativen Kommentare über die Essensgewohnheiten in anderen Ländern. (Beispiel: „Spaghettifresser, Knoblauchfresser“)

Landesspezifische Etikette

Häufig wird interkulturelle Kompetenz gleichgesetzt mit dem Wissen und Handeln nach landesspezifischen Etiketten. Aus unserer Sicht ist das aber erst der Anfang. Ausserdem können wir auch als interkulturelle Coaches durchaus in Fettnäpfchen treten.

Kulturstandards

Thomas, Kinast, Schroll-Machl (2005) legen in ihrer Arbeit Kulturstandards fest. Es handelt sich hierbei um landesspezifische Werte und Normen. Durch Kenntnis der Werte und Normen wird erwartet, dass sich das Verhalten der (normalerweise ausländischen) Expats mit der Zeit anpassen wird. Kulturstandards werden durch fünf Merkmale definiert.

  • Sie sind Arten des Wahrnehmens, Denkens, Wertens und Handelns.
  • Sie steuern eigenes und fremdes Verhalten.
  • Sie besitzen eine Regulationsfunktion für Situationsbewältigung und Umgang mit Personen.
  • Sie variieren innerhalb eines gewissen Toleranzbereiches bei Individuen und Gruppen.
  • Verhaltensweisen ausserhalb der Kulturstandards werden von sozialer Umwelt sanktioniert.

Kulturdimensionen

In Trainings arbeiten wir (und moderne Tools auch) häufig mit den vergleichenden Modellen der Kulturdimensionen.

  • nach Hofstede
  • nach F. Trompenaars / C. Hampden-Turner
  • nach E.T. Hall

Was spricht für die Arbeit mit Kulturdimensionen?

  • Sie dienen als Strukturierungsmöglichkeit.
  • Sie sind einfach zu merken, Teilnehmer können auf einer Metaebene über das Thema sprechen.
  • Tendenzen können zum ersten Mal sichtbar werden..
  • Sie sind eine Chance, um Erfahrungen zu reflektieren.
  • Sie sind hilfreich für abstrakte und deduktive Teilnehmer (z.B. deutsche Akademiker)

Was spricht gegen die Arbeit mit Kulturdimensionen?

  • Sie verstärken Stereotypen.
  • Bei wenig erfahrenen Nutzern können sie eine Abwehrhaltung in Bezug auf die eigene Kultur hervorrufen.
  • Die praktische Anwendung fehlt.
  • Sie werden bei der Suche nach gegenteiligen Beweisen genutzt (subjektive Erfahrung entspricht nicht der Dimension)
  • Sie sind durch eine westliche Sichtweise und mangelnde Integration von Herz und Körper geprägt.

Wenn Sie gerne mehr dazu erfahren möchten, lassen Sie es mich wissen.

A. Weinberger

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