How much intelligence can the world tolerate?
If there is one common denominator that characterises the impact of digitisation on modern society, that is diversity. These days, even men and women aren’t what they used to be. To the chagrin of all the conservative forces who would like to keep the world working the way it has been for a long time, let’s say at least since the Industrial Revolution.
A new culture of pluralism.
»Female shift« or »gender shift« are frequently quoted buzzwords, because this is a megatrend. »Gender is losing its determinism and the target group its commitment. Never before has whether someone is born and brought up as a man or a woman had so little effect on how their lives proceed. The trend towards changing role patterns and crumbling gender stereotypes is resulting in radical changes in both the economy and society. The prevalent« I »awareness is destroying the old woman / man scheme and creating a new culture of pluralism.«
And how does that look in real terms?
The latter is sometimes due to a helping hand – keyword »female quota«- whereby »the practical implementation of gender equality has apparently slipped down the agenda again«. . The proportion of women in management positions dropped slightly again last year. Possibly because companies have been sloppy and neglected to engage more women in middle management positions. Possibly because the options for being a working mother are still not as attractive as they should be. Possibly because the ingrained mothering reflex can’t be wiped away in the twinkling of an eye, and some women (still) prefer to have children and work part-time and decide against a tough full-time career? Or possibly a little patience is required. Structural change? Takes a little while…!
Are women better at the helm?
The good news is that women really are on the way up. Nevertheless, despite the fact that they are generally better educated, they still earn 21% or perhaps 6% less in Germany (adjusted gender pay gap: in addition to career choice, a large part of the pay gap can be explained by the fact that more women than men work part-time). Women’s social and economic influence is increasing all over the world. They have realised that education is the gateway to the future. Over half the university graduates in Germany are women. In Germany, the proportion of women who are happy to finish their education after obtaining a secondary school leaving certificate is declining, while that of men remains more or less unchanged.
Female leadership is a recipe for success: Women in management positions provide better returns. Company shares rise if at least one woman has an executive position, a seat on the board of directors, or on the supervisory board. Women manage companies more sustainably and take fewer risks, so companies are generally less likely to find themselves in distress. A total lack of men doesn’t work well, however; mixed teams are more creative, more productive and more successful. Women and men are simply different and the two worlds complement each other.
New times, new identities, new target groups: Man, woman, wo-man?
Brands and markets have responded to the trend and are using it to their advantage. Gender-neutral unisex or androgynous concepts are not exactly new in the fashion and lifestyle industries. Above and beyond the quality of a fashion statement, however, more and more products are being developed that are out of line with the classic male-female target group allocation. Instead, they score points for adaptability, modifiability or simply uni-ideological practicality.
A few examples: Bosch has developed the IXO cordless screwdriver, a tool that is lighter, smaller and more chic, and fully meets the needs of standard urban D-I-Y aficionados, regardless of their gender. Saana Hellsten offers a razor that can be customised with regard to blade type, application and handle shape – a product that is for both men and women. These are both valid approaches that no longer emphasise gender differences, but focus on the similarities that unite men and women. However, we do not seem to be quite that far from the linguistic perspective.
Politically correct language mistake: How masculine are bakers really?
It’s nice that Wittgenstein’s »the limits of my language are the limits of my world« is taken so seriously across the board. But who, please, came up with the foolish idea of putting grammatical and natural gender into one? So that every male baker (Bäcker) is accompanied by his female baker (Bäckerin). Which, from a purely grammatical point of view, is even discriminatory: »Word formation teachings describe the result of deriving nouns with the suffix »er« from verbs (bakers Bäcker from baking backen) as a person who carries out the activity described by the verb. Men are not mentioned in the noun agent. Baker (Bäcker) as masculine does not refer exclusively to men any more than person (Person) as feminine refers exclusively to women. This is how it is in German. There is a word here that refers exclusively to women (Bäckerin), but none that refers exclusively to men. Women are linguistically twice, men once visible.« Nice mess.
Supposed way out: The galloping participalization that turns refugees (Flüchtlingen) into refugees (Flüchtende), truck drivers (LKW-Fahrer) into truck drivers (LKW-Fahrende) and students (Studenten) into students (Studierende). I would doubt that. Because in the life of even the most industrious student (Studenten), there are moments when he is not studying. Maybe he drinks a beer and talks about the weather. Or about whether every lorry driver (LKW-Fahrende) is a lorry driver (LKW-Fahrer) and whether those who, in the face of war, violence, persecution, had to leave their home, house, yard and family, will not remain refugees (Flüchtlinge) for a long time to come, even if they are no longer on the run, that is, refugees (Fliehende). As well as all this may be meant, gender ideologizing language is the wrong way to go. What good is it if all corners and edges (politically correct, semantically questionable) are polished and everything is a sauce? Diversity is something other than arbitrariness.
Risk alert! Where does the dissolution of binding classifications and reference systems lead?
Sociologist Ulrich Beck already warned of the risks involved in dissolving binding reference systems (in language and in life) – the »de-traditionalisation of lifestyles in industrial society« – in his book »Risk Society«, back in 1986. »The constellations of the risk society are created because the thinking and activities of people and institutions are dominated by the self-evident aspects of the industrial society (the consensus on progress, the abstraction of ecological consequences and dangers, control optimism). The risk society is not an option that could be chosen or rejected in the course of political debates. It emerges from consequence-blind, risk-deaf modernisation processes that have developed a life of their own. In sum and latency, these generate self-endangerment that questions, abolishes and changes the foundations of industrial society.«  You could also say: »That ship has already« sailed – but are we able to command the beast that we have unleashed? Are we actually able to deal with so much freedom and diversity, and so many options?
Male Drift: Return of the tough guys?
In the past, in an industrially-oriented world, they were the muscular heroes who could bring even steel to the boil. These days, muscle power has a cosmetic quality at best. Some men seem to be terrified by this change in society. This would also explain the resurgence of the unmistakable chauvinists and tough guys and their overbearing behaviour. The Donald Trumps, Vladimir Putins, Victor Orbans, Harvey Weinsteins and Christiano Ronaldos of this world have recognised the signs of the times.
They bluster, bawl and insult each other as if there were no tomorrow and time had come to an eternal standstill. And it is our job, the job of the enlightened, the intelligent beings of whatever gender, to set a good example – and to act sensibly. Justly. Fairly. So that we can make this tricky world of diversity a little more pleasant with mixed teams of men and women. Always moving forwards, never backwards. And when women take on the leadership role, it sounds like a promising project.
Digital transformation: How to prevail in a world that is constantly creating new rules?
So what does all that have to do with the digital world? Actually, nothing. And yet everything. After all, proper communication is more important than ever. Recognising the signs of the times and reacting to them. Reaching the appropriate target groups intellectually, emotionally, and through the media. Making eye-to-eye contact with them. Credibly, contemporarily and convincingly. We are happy to help companies communicate successfully with the aid of our combined digital skill sets. Take advantage of the expertise of our consultants, analysts and internet specialists. Regardless of whether you need social media advertising, digital marketing solutions, search engine advertising or content marketing, we will support you with target-oriented concepts and credible, contemporary content that is completely in tune with the times and target group.
About Alexandra Dankert, by Alexandra Dankert.
In a former life, Ms Dankert studied Hegelian philosophy up to proseminar level and gained master’s degrees in German Philology, Psychoanalysis and Scandinavian Studies. She concluded her studies with a paper on Thomas Bernhard, which may possibly have resulted in a recognisable tendency to exaggerate. Then, following several stints in the theatre and a grudging insight into the necessity of making a decent living, she launched herself into the world of advertising agencies. Today, of course, she works as the world’s best freelance copywriter, conceptual designer and author for various agencies in Hamburg and Rhine-Main-Neckar. Ms Dankert is amazed by suchdialog’s courage in presenting off-beat perspectives, critical words and contrary insights into the digital world. Chapeau!