ENTREPRENEURIAL GIRLS | Column Nicole Hoefsmit
Amsterdam June 2016: Blood, sweat and NO tears! I personally recorded this melodious and ass-kicking slogan from the mouth of none other than Neelie Kroes. Neelie flattened the room with this statement. But is it true?
You may already know that with my company PLEIN PUBLIQUE I stand knee-deep in independent entrepreneurship. With heart, soul and bliss I work on building up and flourishing my own beautiful brand. In addition, I am of course also a normal human being, a mother and - not unimportantly in this context - a woman. And then nowadays you suddenly fall into a very hip subculture; that of the Female Entrepreneur / Businesswoman. And all kinds of network events are organized on a regular basis for these enterprising girls. (forgive me for this pigeonholing, but 'you are what you eat', or in this case 'say') Now it looks like I am just having fun, but unfortunately those events are a dire necessity. Because you know the popular media cliché called the "glass ceiling"? It. Still. Exists.
'The glass ceiling is nothing more than a thick layer of men'
- Annemarie Jorritsma
We all know that women still hold top positions in business to a lesser extent than men. And if they already have such a coveted top job, then the pay is considerably lower than that of a man in the same position. But if she also has the guts to come out with her self-deserved status, she has to face a scornful and disparaging public opinion.
Yes, it was like that "in the beginning", I hear you think, but that isn't the case anymore right? Well it is. Sure, with some exceptions, but more often than not, self-earned success has been denied to many women. Or - worse - honored as being earned through the help of third parties. When a man achieves success in his career using his connections, they are called business relationships. In the case of a woman, the word "wheelbarrow" is more fitting in the mind of the public. Subtle difference, but one that indicates exactly where we stand.
"If the knowledge economy were a car, the woman would be behind the wheel."
- HRH Maxima
And do you know what really is the most ironic? Women are often the ones that do this. yes ladies, we are certainly not all bffs when it comes to mutual appreciation. Ever heard of penis envy? Meet venus envy. You can probably still remember the book "A webshop is not a career". Misplacedly intended to be funny and a real hit at the time. Written by a woman. I rest my case.
Recently, for example, I personally received a rather disparaging response to my own entrepreneurship. Also from a woman. I was at a party where I got into conversation with a couple who both hold high positions in banking. After some chitchat, the woman asked how I know the host of the party. So I said "That's a business relationship." The woman was so surprised that her partner even said that she should be less derogatory about her own gender. Afterwards, it was admittedly somewhat lulled afterwards, but the damage was done nonetheless.
Why are we doing this to our "sisters in crime"? What's wrong with a fun game of pleasing and allowing and celebrating that someone else is doing well in life? Together we are strong, and we can achieve so much more. With this hot issue as the theme, THE NEXT WOMEN 100 recently took place. A seminar in which online magazine The Next Women presents their annual list of 100 top female entrepreneurs, and which was linked to an inspiring program of female speakers. Inspiration, innovation, participation! (That rhymes :) )
"Women who don't help each other deserve a place in hell"
- Neelie Kroes
All kidding aside; in any case it rhymed sufficiently with my vision and interest in getting stimulated, so on I went - on to Amsterdam. And boy, what a beautiful day it was. Phenomenal speakers, each not shy to speak their mind. You can check the full list on the site of The Next Women, but I will mention a few; Gillian Tans/Booking.com, Tina Welss/Buzz Marketing Group, Ida Tin/Clue. And Annemarie Jorritsma/Topvrouwen.nl who also made a beautiful statement: 'The glass ceiling is nothing more than a thick layer of men'.
And from the aforementioned Neelie Kroes came a few spicy gems; "Women who don't help each other deserve a place in hell" and "Blood, sweat and NO tears". True words. What a woman. Role model, self-made business woman and inspirator of the highest order. And then I almost forget the hit of the day; the speech of our very own Queen Maxima. Shining center of attention, and well deserved with her unique view on female entrepreneurship: "If the knowledge economy were a car, the woman would be behind the wheel."
Blood, sweat and NO tears!
- Neelie Kroes
Funny when you consider that she herself knows a thing or two about carriages and has a man who she says is sometimes "a bit stupid". I think she had to apologize that night. It was a motivating, inspiring and exciting day, with passionate and enthusiastic speakers. So much togetherness, charity, so many power women - my belief in an honest approach to women as an entrepreneur has been greatly strengthened. Woman. Girls. Come on. We can do it. We deserve it. We are worth it. At the end of the day, the TNW100 of 2016 was announced; the hot 100 of women who convert most with their own company …… and no, I am not yet among them. But hope gives life.
And although my main concern now is satisfaction, persistence, maturity and wholeness - a full wallet is ultimately quite nice too. False modesty? No way. Hurray for the Entrepreneurial Girls!
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* Update: One year later and we went to the summit again. We wrote a new column about that. 'Ambitious troelas'
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