Marcella Hansch had to overcome many hurdles on the way to becoming a founder and CEO – one reason: she is a woman. On International Women’s Day 2021, she talks about what has to happen so that the chances are equal.
You enter a hall full of people who give you applause because you receive a prize in a few seconds. You stand on the podium and take a quick look into the crowd before you speak. In this second it becomes clear to you that your talent or your idea may not have been decisive in why you of all people was chosen as the winner. There you are now – and everyone is waiting for your “thank you”.
This text shouldn’t be necessary at all. But today is International Women’s Day. And as a woman who is often in the spotlight, I know all too well how unequal women and men still stand in society. As the founder of everwave I run a flourishing start-up. Some people now ask: What is the problem, Ms. Hansch?
So, what’s the problem?
The answer goes back to six years ago. Pacific Garbage Screening let alone everwave didn’t exist back then. I was almost alone with my idea. I was often asked if I was sure I could do all of this. Wouldn’t that be a size too big for such a young girl.
At first that pulled me down. I doubted myself and actually asked myself: Can I do it? Fortunately, I’ve always been stubborn. In a world in which young women rarely belong to the great visionaries, he helps me tremendously. After the self-doubt came the motivation. Especially now!
Today, men and women work in our team at everwave. Equality does not have to be a utopia. Unfortunately, this has not yet penetrated society. At awards ceremonies, I’m often the only woman – quota woman, so to speak. So that nobody gets me wrong: I am happy about every award. But all too often I have the feeling that I have been recognized not for my idea, but for my gender.
“There just has to be a woman”
There are even prizes that are exclusively for women. The best female lead, so to speak. Like when someone has a great idea, it has to do with gender. While it’s nice that it highlights how many women out there are making the world a better place. But we don’t really get any closer to the goal of making something like this more independent of gender. This is a pity.
As with so many things – we notice that at everwave with all the plastic in the environment – we can only get closer to a long-term solution if we get to the root of the problem. And that means starting with the upbringing of our children. Too often girls and boys grow up subtly with different role models.
International Women’s Day once a year is not enough
In contrast to boys, this fact has a significant impact on girls’ self-confidence. This is later reflected in the choice of profession, in politics, in language. Boys blue, girls pink? Globally, equality of opportunity is even more dramatic. On International Women’s Day a year is not enough. In 18 countries, husbands can prevent women from working.
Women do not even hold a quarter of the seats in parliament. More than 750 million women are married before they are of legal age. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. By 2030, the United Nations (UN) would like to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to which we at everwave have also committed ourselves, largely change.
Where we are now together, as a team, I’m proud of that. Because I know that I have prevailed against many hurdles. I have been able to share and advance my vision with others and have never given up. Not because I’m a woman, but because I know that it can work and because I fully support my plans. Not an easy way, but a necessary one.
The solution – in Germany as in the rest of the world – can only be a change in awareness. Not blue, not pink. Let’s all be part of this change!