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Women in power: 5 Berlin women on how they made it

Unless you’ve been living under a rock these last few weeks, you’ll know that Friday the 8th of March is International Women’s Day, and, for the first time ever, a public holiday in Berlin. Not only does this go some way to redressing the woeful public holiday imbalance across Germany’s regions (Bavaria gets 13, Berlin gets 10 — no fair!), but it gives us the excuse (and time) to celebrate the great women who run this city.

tip Berlin‘s Isabella Caldart sat down with 5 female high-flyers — from politicians to club owners — to hear their workplace philosophies and experience of sexism on the job.


Fränzi Kühne (photo: David von Becker)

Fränzi Kühne

Fränzi Kühne, founder and head of digital agency TLGG, became the country’s youngest supervisory board member almost overnight

Your leadership style in a nutshell?

I work team-oriented and at eye level. Flat hierarchies in which you can praise, criticise and respect each other are absolutely necessary.

What advice do you have for young women at the beginning of their careers?

Find mentors from different areas and learn from them. Listen to your gut feeling. Dare to get started, even if it may not be perfect the first time. You learn with time. That’s why the goal you set yourselves can also be a bit too big. One grows into everything.

What should men not do?

I don’t differentiate according to sex. Competing makes me unreliable, no matter with whom. I like solution-oriented and positive people.

When did you last encounter sexism at work?

Sexism is part of sexualised violence. It has been scientifically proven that it’s not so much about sexuality, but about the exercise of power. I’ve been in a leading position for over ten years. That is a privilege that has ensured that I am no longer exposed to any abuse of power. Nevertheless there’s a lot of women who are. No matter what position you are in, you can never forget that.


Anita Tillmann © Boris Kralj

Anita Tillmann

Anita Tillmann is the founder of the PREMIUM fashion fair and the face of Fashion Week

Your leadership style in a nutshell?

We cultivate a cooperative leadership style in the group. This culture gives our team as much freedom and decision-making competence as possible. We discuss the meaning and purpose of the company, explain strategies and our goals. Ideas are shared with the employees.

What advice do you have for young women at the beginning of their careers?

It’s important to be open to experience and willing to learn everything possible. And know that sometimes it can be exhausting or no fun.

What should men not do?

I don’t like bad manners and disrespect.

When did you last encounter sexism at work?

At the last Fashion Week in Berlin there was a situation that was unpleasant.


Jeanine Meerapfel © Marcus Lieberenz/bildbuehne.de

Jeanine Meerapfel

The filmmaker and head of Akademie der Künste, Jeanine Meerapfel, considers some sexism to be difficult to measure

Your leadership style in a nutshell?

Trust and friendliness – this creates a good atmosphere and allows you to work happily together.

What advice do you have for young women at the beginning of their careers?

Don’t be afraid. You can achieve what you set out to do. You are no different than the others. Trust in it.

What should men not do?

Come out with stupid sayings and stupid claims.

When did you last encounter sexism at work?

Fortunately, I have not experienced open sexism. Hidden sexism and jealousy are hard to measure, but they’re present in decisions against my film projects, for example.


Pamela Schobeß in Gretchen Club Berlin. (photo: David von Becker)

Pamela Schobeß

Pamela Schobeß runs Club Gretchen, which means she often deals with drunks. Does this automatically expose her to more attacks? No, says the restaurateur

Your leadership style in a nutshell?

I hope friendly, but determined. I’m quite direct. That combined with the friendliness usually works – but unfortunately not always. Fairness is very important to me.

What advice do you have for young women at the beginning of their careers?

Be straightforward. Be honest. Don’t lose sight of your path and your goal. Don’t let yourself be discouraged by setbacks. Laugh regularly.

What should men not do?

I can’t stand it when men want to help me into my jacket. Most men are completely untalented.

When did you last encounter sexism at work?

In my job? Not at all. And otherwise – even if some will not believe it (or want to) – also not.


Ramona Pop (photo: David von Becker)

Ramona Pop

Active involvement in politics is anything but easy for women. Economic Senator Ramona Pop of the Greens has nevertheless won through

Your leadership style in a nutshell?

Cooperative, demanding and encouraging. I do pretty well with the golden rule: Treat others as you would like to be treated yourself.

What advice do you have for young women at the beginning of their careers?

Be courageous, be brave, and ally yourselves!

What should men not do?

Say: „Now I’ll explain to you how that works.“

When did you last encounter sexism at work?

When I heard this sentence from a man a few weeks ago. He certainly wouldn’t have thought of it with a male senator.