Unconscious bias? A name is enough.

When British prime minister Boris Johnson wins a contest for a most offensive poem, people laugh and elect him for being natural and entertaining. He is a politician. His job is to practice diplomacy.

When model Heidi Klum dances in a torn dress laying bare her underwear people criticize. Heidi is an entertainer. Her job is to be entertaining. The situations look different at first, but at a second glance they scream #bias.

A bias is a cognitive illusion, a distorted perception of reality.

Daniel #Kahnemann, psychologist, Nobel laureate, and best-selling author, attributes bias to our ability of "thinking fast". Judging a situation authomatically and intuitively in order to survive and learn in a world full of information and danger. In this context, bias is a tool.

In one way or the other, we are all #biased - by our education, environment, and prior experience. For example when we expect corporates to be clumsy, startup founders young, or French to drink wine for lunch.

Compared to bias, #unconsciousbias is a prejudice we are unaware of. Unconscious bias is not a tool, but a pitfall, and often discussed in the context of #diversity#inclusion, and #leadership. In regard to gender, it is judging people dependent on their sex.

A famous scientific study showed a significant influence of unconscious bias on the perceived likeability of a person. The study involved a text, an ambitious candidate profile. The text was presented with a male name to a test group, and with a female name to a control group. Other than the names both profiles were identical.

The test participants were then asked to characterize the profiles without any further information. Indeed, the candidate profiles were characterised differently, and especially associating negative characteristics with the ambitious female profile, like e.g. arrogance.

Knowing about unconscious bias is a step towards better decision making and real inclusivity. Practicing conscious abstraction of it is a whole mile further.

How to do it? Before judging anyone next time, try changing their name. This might already be enough.

Wanted: International Listener

Wanted: International Listener

I am rushing through the venue to reach my speakers stage on time. Today I am speaking about startup cooperations at Forum Young Tech Enterprises. It's the fourth day of Hannover Messe, the world's leading trade fair for industrial technology. The conference program counts about 2.000 Speakers. That's around 1 speaker every 100 visitors. Given the average length of the slots, this translates into at least 15 speeches to chose from every minute. That's a lot of speeches! And of all things I am the person that slowly melts down on a chair in front of a speaker with a well researched and professionally delivered  passionate speech. I mean, who doesn't?!

Who Says Girls Are Not Into Football?

Who Says Girls Are Not Into Football?

From time to time I face conversations with other parents, colleagues or friends, I am sure you have, too. They usually start like "No, but my boys, they just love playing Lego more." and end in my facial expression that is far more edgy to be still named friendly. This easy-going, well-accepted, widely-adopted small-talk about reputed gender differences is as negligible, as it is fundamental for sticking to a society of labels and inequality.

As a mother of girls, who love playing Lego, football and cars, and a woman in tech, I have a hard time supporting them. Here are three reasons why.

Bursting the Business Innovation Myth

Bursting the Business Innovation Myth

Somehow, many of us have ended to believe that innovation is the exclusive domain of the rebels, of the creative, of those who disregard rules and hierarchies. An unverbalized consequence of this erroneous notion is that the antidotes of the rebels, the big companies that happen to have a lot of those, cannot be innovative per definition. In accordance to the facts however, most innovative companies are big and older than 10 yearsResearch shows also that constraints, like policies and procedures, actually drive creativity

Doing This One Thing Will Make You Stand Out

Doing This One Thing Will Make You Stand Out

There's tons of career advice out there. Students, entrepreneurs, leaders - we all strive for success and acceptance. But when you get to work with a lot of people in a huge variety of industries, functions and business relationship, you quickly realize that the few who stand out have one thing in commonprofessionalism.  

I am not trying to be smart, it's the basics, you're right. Unfortunately, professionalism doesn't follow authomatically with "following a profession", and "being professional" seems to not come naturally to most of us. The reason is that professionalism is nothing that you have, but everything that you do

Here's the 4 P's that "professional" means to me. 

Why did Netflix abandon its big heart mission?

Why did Netflix abandon its big heart mission?

The parents among you know that having kids implies going back to the school calendar for a while. So here I am a 35 years old working mom on Easter holidays. I am trying to take it easy this time and not to make too many plans. With one exception. Like for my children, my personal archetype of freedom is staying up late watching TV. Right on the very first day, after I put the kids to bed, I make a bowl of popcorn and situate myself comfy in front of the display. You got it, time for netflixing!

Here’s what I tell corporates when they ask me how to crush it in a startup cooperation

Here’s what I tell corporates when they ask me how to crush it in a startup cooperation

In 2016, Fraunhofer Venture started a new project, called TechBridge. The goal was simple: to empower start-ups and Fraunhofer institutes for joint innovation projects. Nearly 100 different project proposals have now reached our office.