01 Nov 2017

Busting the myth of gender equal start-ups

Mathilde Ramadier explains why codetermination, flat hierarchies and equal rights are often just empty promises in the start-up world.

Christine Tragler
Christine Tragler Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
Busting the myth of gender equal start-ups - NewsMavens

Why this story matters:

French author Mathilde Ramadier has worked in twelve Berlin start-ups. In her book "Bienvenue dans la nouveau monde", the 29-year-old describes her experiences in the young, hip start-up scene.

"My goal was to show that this world is far less sexy than people assume, what you hear or read is mostly just the perspective of the founders or investors," says Mathilde Ramadier to DER STANDARD. Many young people dream of creative start-up ventures to better humanity. But the promises of the start-up world are often mirages, warns Ramadier. Most are not social projects, but rather e-businesses. Zalando, for example: the successful Berlin company sells clothing online. "I don’t know what's revolutionary about it," says Ramadier.

The division of labor between genders in start-ups is equally unexciting. Ramadier’s study concludes that there is far less equality in start-ups than is generally claimed.

"There are far fewer female CEOs, and women are often pigeonholed into comms or HR. There are seldom women in the finance department, for example."

Moreover, it is naive to believe that women and men work on equal footing just because a company employs mostly youngsters.

"In start-ups, you often hear that: ‘we’re not a company, we’re a family, [...], there is no office anymore, we work in open spaces’.”In an atmosphere like this, who would dare to complain about low salaries and overtime?"

In France, the publication of her book has caused quite a stir in the start-up world. She has received hostile messages from colleagues: "They claim I have no idea what I am talking about. They said I should have worn a dress or a skirt, and kept my mouth shut. For me, this was further proof that this new, supposedly progressive start-up world is not always so rosey."

Facts

  • Mathilde Ramadier (29) studied philosophy and contemporary art. She worked as a freelancer and was employed by several Berlin start-ups.
  • Her book "Bienvenue dans le nouveau monde" was published in February and will soon be available in German.Many young people hope they can get exciting tasks in start-ups and take on responsibility quickly.
  • In Ramadier's experience, the promises of start-ups are often just hot air.
  • According to the Chamber of Commerce, between 500 and 1000 start-ups are founded in Austria every year.
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