Nushu, a syllabic script derived from Chinese characters that was used exclusively among women in southern China, is making a comeback in 2018. Nowadays, Nushu is synonymous with a network aiming for more femininity in the economy. Hamburg News spoke to co-founder Melanie Schütze.
Hamburg News: Melanie, what’s so special about Nushu?
Melanie Schütze: Eye-level talks. We have many strong and experienced women in our network, but we are particularly interested in young women, who are at the start of their careers. They have problems in many established networks – simply because they are not yet established, but on their way to the top. And we want to accompany them along this path.
Hamburg News: How should this accompaniment be envisioned?
Melanie Schütze: Women come to Nushu for a relaxed coffee and a chat. After an hour, both sides get to know each other and we learn what motivates each woman. This is the basis for a successful relationship. All threads literally run together in Nushu. And women, on the other hand, come together at our diverse events, the “nushu nights” or “nushu breakys”, an early-bird breakfast.
Hamburg News: What do women expect from these events?
Melanie Schütze: In any case, they do not expect a classical networking event, where a woman stands around with a glass and watches the goings-on. We encourage active participation, e.g. small groups are formed about certain topics, depending on interests. Best cases can be conveyed, questions asked or tips and advice given. We don’t waste much time on small talk, but rather go right to the heart of the issue. But of course the events are also lots of fun. One of our last “nushu nights” focused on “food founders”. Various chat sessions; mini workshops and live cooking were held – something for mind and body.
Hamburg News: What topics are women particularly interested in at present?
Melanie Schütze: On the one hand, there is the NewWork approach focusing on leadership, i.e. real personalities that you like to follow. Then there is empowerment – to shape one’s life and career in a self-determined and responsible manner – and finally flexibility: How can digital changes be used to adapt one’s career shrewdly to life?
Hamburg News: And women can find suitable jobs via the new “nushu job movies”?
Melanie Schütze: That is just one way of transmitting job advertisements in a contemporary manner and from a female perspective. Surprisingly, job advertisements are still done in the same, conventional style…a PDF with ‘we are looking for…we are offering….’ Nushu takes the camera and films from a female point of view and shines the spotlight on workplace, team, boss and perspectives for female leadership. Thus a woman can determine whether the position is suitable for her.
Hamburg News: But the jobs are often filled in advance, right?
Melanie Schütze: That’s why networking is so important! According to a study by LinkedIn, more than a quarter of German employees find their present job based on recommendations. We believe there are even significantly more of them. Through Nushu, women are personally and digitally networked, e.g. through our social media channels. Self-employed and freelance women thus find inspiration, exchange and visibility, while employed women find contacts beyond the office community. So they don’t start from zero when they change employers – which is not uncommon nowadays.
Hamburg News: You yourself started Nushu in July. You had previously set up Alsterloge – a successful network for young, business and career-orientated women.
Melanie Schütze: Almost too successfully. The Alsterloge had grown quickly and without a suitable concept. It had simply become too large and confusing. Together with my co-founder Bernadette Brysch, we are now much better positioned with investors and have strong partners including Accenture, Deutsche Bahn, Unilever, but also Otto and Daimler – and can grow in a targeted manner. We are currently setting up a new branch in Munich. And a branch in Cologne will follow in the New Year and perhaps one in another city. And our “nushu connect” app will be launched soon. This will enable women to network throughout Germany – of course always in combination with personal contacts.
Interview by Yvonne Scheller
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