Event Summary: The 2018 Kick-Off

On Thursday September 6th we kicked off the new TopFem year at the art'otel in Amsterdam. We had the honour to have Marije Cornelissen, Executive Director of the UN Women National Committee in the Netherlands, as our key note speaker.

Our Chairwoman, Géraldine Lafeber, opened the evening. She introduced TopFem and the new TopFem board of 2018-2019. Thereafter, our Programme Manager, Carmen van Polanen Petel, spoke about the ins and outs of the Leadership Programme and the Mentor&Network Programme. After this introduction, the floor was given to Marije Cornelissen. Marije began her lecture with her experience of female leadership and feminism in and outside of politics. The first part of the lecture was mainly focused on the development of female leadership, and females in general in her direct surroundings.

The second part of the evening, Marije talked about the lack of female leaders in the Netherlands and the effects this can have on our society. She pointed out that if females get into top positions within organisations, they face a different treatment than most males in top positions do. For instance, women frequently get asked how they can manage having a top position and taking care of their family, where men are almost never asked this question. The main reason for this difference is that many people still place women and men in their gender stereotypes: the man works and provides food and money, and the woman takes care of the family. Marije made clear that to get more women in the top, not only do we have to let go of these stereotypes, but we also must look at the different genders as equals. This also meant letting go of gender stereotypes when raising children. To end her lecture, Marije asked who in the crowd had children. As no one raised their hand she was very pleased and added: "then you can start off right!".

After Marije's inspiring lecture, we got a little taste of the Leadership Programme. Our coach, Phyleen Mattaar, gave the crowd a small task about the difference between connecting and comparing. Do you want to know how Phyleen can help you develop your leadership skills and really challange yourself? Sign up for the Leadership Programme by handing in your resumé and cover letter to info@topfem.nl. Are you interested in the Mentor&Network Programme or want to know more about TopFem as an organisation? Come to our Next Generation Event on September 27th at Amref Flying Doctors in Leiden!