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Silent role models

Updated: Sep 21

An ode to the wonderful women I know

I got my first career advice from a man. My first mentor was a guy. I learned entrepreneurship from my first male business partner.

When I started working ten years ago, I mainly had men around me.

But there is good news, because lately I run into women everywhere who:

• have an eye for business

• dare to take risks

• outsmart others

• are funny

• help each other

• are honest to themselves

Yet still, I read that there are too few female role models. That at the senior levels, there are fewer women than men and that there is still a ‘gender pay-gap’?

I think one of the reasons is because women have a natural feeling of misplaced modesty.

Recently I spoke to the female boss of a large dairy company. She works at board level. I told her she's a role model to me, someone I look up to.

She looked at me and smiled. She said "I don’t look at myself that way" as she slowly spun the red wine in her glass.

And then I realised that there are plenty of women who achieve a lot and perform at a high level, but modesty hinders us. We need to appreciate ourselves a little more and propagate our role in society.

I am hopeful that that will happen. It's only a matter of time. Before long, we will see more women in executive roles, more women on boards, and more women giving other women promotions and pay rises.

The more I think about it, the more I start to see how many role models I have always had around me.

• The beautiful woman who is my mother. Who was a working mum and gave me enough love and was also a firefighter.

• The woman who hired me for my first real job.

• The woman who proved herself in a male culture and gave me advice and supported me during management meetings.

• The co-worker with whom I can cry and share secrets with and who has now become a good friend.

• The sensitive girlfriend who started her own company against everyone's expectations.

• She who pointed out my behavior to me.

• The sweetheart who doesn't realize how much she is worth.

• She who stands her own financial position.

• The smart woman that all men fear.

• She who can be strong when needed, yet vulnerable when it matters most.

Thank you, you inspire me. All in your own way.

Josepha van Boxtel, Thea van Boxtel, Annet Dane, Mirjam Wassink, Joyce Dekker, Dianne van Dulmen, Francis Toulmin, Kathryn Peat, Holly Cater, Natalie Macrides Pantos, Renee Schouwenburg, Ella Hanzon, Fleur Betgem, Melanie Scott, Roos de Wild, Penny Claridge, Mohini Vidwans, Rianne van Zalinge, Janine Aertse, Lotte Pen, Kyra Lagendijk, Abbey Parsons, Anouk Jocker, Puck Algera, Merel van Koldenhoven, Anke van Boxtel, Marjolein Cozijnsen, Lenie van der Werf, Marinka Koster, Martine Afman, Bianca Punt, Bronwyn Beck, Alice Talbot, Amy Harrison

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