women board members

Women Board Members



gridlock exception call the shots
take part permit (2) out of the question
board (2) concern (2) advisory board
figure (3) heartland account (3)
justify worth it draw a conclusion
trio sector put forward
severe respect hesitant
network trade show meticulous
steel turnover component
precise exception confederation
flaw hammer lost time
ironic sector make up (2)
favor quota ensure





This woman is an exception: she calls the shots.

Silvia Pretorius: “When traffic permits, I try to get through fast. If I can drive 200 kilometers an hour, I will.”

Gridlock makes that out of the question.

But her career is moving fast.

For more than 20 years, Silvia Pretoreas Reich has been an executive at one of Germany’s biggest industrial concerns. She’s also on the advisory board of a steel company in Germany’s industrial heartland, the Ruhr Valley.

Here, she’s taking part in the advisory board meeting at the Schaewen Company. She’s the accounts expert and is always asked to report the latest figures.

Silvia: “We clearly see how high the costs were and so draw a conclusion whether it was worth it for Schaewen.”

The company’s top managers need to justify their actions to a three-member advisory board.

That a woman is one of the trio in this sector is very unusual in Germany.

Do women on advisory boards work differently from their male colleagues?

Hermann Lohmar, Chairman of the Board, Schaewen: “To be quite honest, I’ve been in the steel business for 50 years. And women haven’t always been well respected. So I was hesitant to tell the truth about putting Frau Pretoreus forward.

But in fact, I got the opposite of what I expected of senior and junior management: Finally a woman. Good.”

Silvia Pretoreus: “I don’t know if I work differently from my male colleagues.”

Uwe Metzger, Managing Director, Schaewen: “Women are a bit more meticulous. For example, when I show the advisory board around a big trade show, what was most interesting was what Frau Pretoreus wanted to have a look at.

The advisory board wants to see that everything is running smoothly. Schaewen produces steel for building heavy industrial machinery.

This year, the company is expected to have 120 million euros in turnover.

But that will only happen if every customer gets their steel components precisely as they specified.

About 500 people work for the company. Over 80% are men.

But there are exceptions. Even in leadership positions.

For example, a woman is in charge of materials testing.

Silvia: “What do your male colleagues say? Have they gotten used to a woman telling them that a part is flawed?”
Female Engineer: “The problem is I’m not very tall. But it’s working.”
Silvia: “I know that problem.”
Female Engineer: “Now I’ll make the hammer; it weighs 45 kilos.”

Pretoreus wants to find out all about testing steel quality.

Silvia: “Is it severed or bent?”

When she was the same age, there were no jobs for women in this sector.

Silvia: “When I applied for my first job as a trainee at a steel industry association — it’s ironic now that I’m on a steel company advisory board — but back then, I received in writing that I was turned down because I was a woman.”

Now she’s telling the bosses what to do.

But she says it would be good if she weren’t the only woman in the room.

Silvia: “I favor the quota to ensure the debate doesn’t die away. And we can take a few steps forward.”

After being the lone woman at an advisory board session, there’s a meeting for women as well.

A business leader association has invited women to a regular get together.

Heike Kroll, German Confederation of Managers: “The men invented the student clubs — they’ve been networking for centuries.

Women really need to make up for lost time there.”

Power is still unequally divided: only one in ten members of the advisory boards of Germany’s major companies is a woman.

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1. Silvia has three titles, or job or professional title. What are they?

2. Can top managers do whatever they think is right, or do they need to consult the advisory board?

3. It’s normal to have a woman on a German advisory board or board of directors. Is this correct or wrong?

4. Is the chairman of the board satisfied with Silvia’s performance?

5. How does the managing director compare males and females?

6. What does Schaewen do? What is its key to success?

7. The female engineer tests the strength of steel components. Is this true or false?

8. According to the business woman, what is the key to male success?
A. What is the status of women in the economy of your country? Are opportunities and power equally divided between men and women?

B. What percent of the employees in your organization are women?

C. Are there certain industries that are dominated by women?

D. There should be quotas for female board of directors. Do you agree?

E. Does more need to be done to make women more equal with men in the economy? What can be done? What are some solutions?

F. What will happen in the future?

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