“Knowing about the differences between men and women on the workplace is so important, it is very useful to be aware of those differences, so you can understand each other better. Ilse used a trumpet explaining a very good example: women think it is their own fault if the trumpet is not working, while men think it is the trumpet itself.”
– Jolijn Standhardt, BA History student.
On March 23rd, Bo Bouwknegt, recruiter at Clifford Chance Amsterdam, welcomed and introduced us to Ilse van Gasteren. Ilse is currently counsel Finance and Litigation at Clifford Chance and has been for almost 5 years now. As chairwoman of the Clifford Chance diversity committee, Ilse is committed to bring gender diversity under the attention of her peers. Ilse studied ‘telecomrecht’ in Groningen.
During her talk she walked us through the differences between working men and women in general, but also within Clifford Chance. She explained the differences between men and women by means of three important examples. Each of the examples were illustrated by an item or a video.
First of all, it is very important for women to receive positive feedback. Women value social feedback, for example that they are doing a good job and that people like working with them. Men do not attach that much value to personal opinions. Men focus on things they can measure, for instance, the deals they close and other objective numbers. Ilse used a post-it to explain this example. A simple post-it with the message that she was doing a good job meant so much to her, she kept it for years. Men do not appreciate such a message as much as women do and forget about it very easily.
Secondly, Ilse used the above mentioned trumpet. It became very clear that, in case something is not working well, women try to find a solution within themselves by improving their own skills, thinking that the problem lies in their abilities. On the contrary, men think it is the fault of something or someone else if things are not working the way they should be. In other words, they think the problem lies in the means and methods.
Lastly, during meetings women show different kind of social behaviour than men. In their mind, they divide the available time among the persons present and wait their turn. In addition, women present their research first and end with their conclusion. On the other hand, men want to dominate the meeting and therefore interrupt each other and tell long stories to present their ideas. Also, they have the habit of ‘manterrupting’, which Ilse showed by using a video, in which a woman explains the way men act during meetings.
After this inspiring presentation of Ilse, we went to Clifford Chance’s inhouse bar for some drinks and networking.