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Female Managers Lift Microsoft Germany

Shrinking populations in Europe are forcing companies to get serious about bringing women into the executive leagues. The software maker is leading the way

Isabel Vogel was a little nervous when she arrived at Microsoft's German headquarters in Unterschleissheim just north of Munich for a job interview. You have nothing to lose, she told herself. She knew that making it this far was already a victory. Despite her stellar background, she wouldn't have stood at a chance at most other companies. For them, there would be one huge blemish on her resume: the fact that she is the mother of three young children.

Her twins had just turned two and she had another child who was three and a half. Despite her responsibilities as a mother, Vogel, a marketing assistant, wanted to work a 30-hour week. Preposterous, her friends said. "No problem," the man at Microsoft told her. "I have confidence in you; you'll make it," he said—and offered her the job.