Tijen Onaran: How to Gendern: Talking to the family about gender issues

The topic of gender repeatedly opens up spaces for heated discussions. While many avoid the topic in more conservative social environments, entrepreneur Tijen Onaran advises not to do so. In an interview with BRIGITTE, she tells us how we address gender and inclusivity in the best, most productive and, above all, most peaceful way.

Do you sometimes keep silent to keep the peace at the dining table? A wide range of topics is often avoided in the family environment when it comes to issues relating to the gender debate. The potential for controversy is too great if the different views clash. In this case, Tijen Onaran does not believe that silence is gold: “The worst that can happen in the whole area of ​​diversity is speechlessness. “she tells us in an interview. Tijen Onaran is an entrepreneur, speaker and founder of the largest global women’s network” Global Digital Women “. With her expertise in the field of gender equality and diversity, she explains how best to deal with conflicting topics such as gender Discusses people who have a very different opinion than your own.

How to Gendern: The mistake is trying to avoid discussions

Often the problem is not in the discussion, but in the way we discuss. Tijen Onaran loves to sit at a table with many different opinions: “If everyone had the same opinion it might be easier and we would get to the same goal faster, but it would definitely not be more innovative or better for the group.” Your tactic is to first listen: “I’ve had good experiences with it, for now to hear all the arguments. You first have to understand and understand where this aversion or defensiveness comes from, for example towards gender or the quota of women. ”

Individual experiences shape one’s own attitude

So the first step to a successful discussion is to first listen to the conversation partner – we sometimes forget that! Tijen has made the experience that the defensive stance is made up of individual experiences of the respective person. For example, if someone does not consider a quota for women to be necessary in a business context, it could be because he or she is professionally successful even without this regulation. Or you know a woman who made it without such a quota. Once you know the original reason for the other person’s opinion, the conversation is first steered away from the critical topic and towards the respective circumstances. “The woman, who got off to a good start in her career even without a quota of women, may have grown up in a relatively privileged family and has had a lot of opportunities since birth.”

So the question of perspective is important: Can the person you are talking to and yourself put yourself in a different situation than the familiar one? There are many women who need more empowerment than others – because it’s not about the exceptions.

“You will not convince anyone with numbers and studies”

Although there are well-founded figures and studies for many socio-political topics, these are of no help in talking to a family member or friend. “You will not convince anyone with numbers and studies. Even if it makes absolutely no sense from a marketing point of view not to gender because you are not addressing a target group, in my opinion that does not help in such discourses. Because many socio-political issues do not work at all more about facts, figures and data Believe. It’s about what kind of attitude you have and what values ​​you have been socialized with. And no matter how many studies you can get around the corner. If you really believe that gender and the quota are of no use, it will be very, very, very difficult to convince this person otherwise. “

Opinions are bogged down – what now?

The aim of the discussion is not always to convince the other. But to make him understand you. It is better if a co-existence is sought, Tijen finds: “I always advocate that the person understands and accepts your attitude. I don’t expect everyone to start gendering. But I do expect that when I do, I am not approached for it. And if I shape a perspective through my gender and say “let yourself be involved”, then I’ve already won a lot. ” Tijen’s attitude is: “Just because I do it, I don’t expect you to do it too. But conversely, if I do it, I also expect you to do it accept. “So we often have to rate intensive discussions positively: When there is discussion, change also takes place.

Because: “The worst thing that can happen in the whole area of ​​diversity is speechlessness. When people stop talking about it. When they do keep silent and make up for yourself. Because if a final attitude develops that you can no longer get through, you can no longer reach people. “

The technology – the solution?

One problem that accompanies us in every discussion is Emotionality. Pointing out and correcting “errors” in language usage does not suit us at all. “It’s actually funny because it has been proven that when people point out something you’re doing wrong, you’re less willing to accept it. But when it does software and that happens in a protected space, then you let yourself go to your mistakes and think about them progressively. “

Such software already exists: a start-up in which Tijen Onaran has invested is working on inclusive language on the content level. So it not only indicates gender, but also the choice of words: “It’s not just about the ending. Inclusive language also means that certain adjectives and attributes are used. For example, the word” ambitious “tends to be more men Just like “high performance” – women don’t see themselves in that environment. So if we de-emotionalize the discourse and bring it to a factual level – like with a digital tool that makes suggestions – it will lead to that people think about it more, and that in the protected space and not on the presentation plate. Index finger politics and shame is the wrong way to go. Inclusive language can be learned as well as learning a foreign language. “

So the next steps in the gender debate are digital toolswho help us to develop a greater sensitivity: “I believe that the future is in the area of ​​diversity in the digital area”, is Tijen Onaran’s assessment.

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