In my part of the world, Western Europe, we assume that you can decide for yourself what you want to become. Whether you are a boy or a girl shouldn’t matter. When a politician suggest that women have other tasks in life than men, like the Dutch Thierry Baudet did the other day, the media are all over it. Like he said a really backward thing.
But, I am asking myself, are Baudet’s ideas really that outdated? Or, on the contrary, are they still very much alive and powerful? When I hold a presentation before young women, I often notice how timid and modest they are. And that they, sometimes blushing, ask questions like ‘How do you combine children with your career?’ or ‘How do your children feel about the sacrifices you make for your top career?’. Questions that a man never ever gets. So: how is it that boys and girls have equal opportunities? Everywhere, including in the hearts of young women, the notion that having a career is more difficult and complicated for women is still very much alive.
By founding the Young Lady Business Academy I want to undo that ongoing and grating ‘disadvantage’. I see enormous potential under young women! And I love giving them opportunities. Furthermore, I want for ambitious young women to get used to the idea that they are allowed to go for their dream career, just like boys. That is why I invite women in top positions to share their stories of how they ‘did it’: making choices, showing courage, getting to the top. So young women can see with their own eyes: indeed, it is possible…
Questions like ‘am I good enough?’, ‘can I persevere?’ and ‘how can I have a fulfilling relationship when I have a demanding job?’ are – sadly – typical doubts that young women wrestle with. And even if you don’t have those doubts (hurray!) and as a young woman you dare to say out loud that you want to become a CEO or minister, then – so I have seen many times – you still have a problem. You are seen as arrogant. Looked upon as weird. Often also by other young women.
So what am I doing to help young women; to let their self confidence grow? And what is for a lot of young women a huge relief and encouragement at the same time? That at the Young Lady Business Academy they are surrounded by only enthusiast peers, who give them extra energy instead of holding them back. Next… Suddenly a lot of participants of the Academy dare to voice their ambitions, lay out their plans, take action and share their deepest feelings behind their dreams.
That window into the soul and that stirring energy I find very beautiful. And it touches me deeply.
At the Academy, in one week, will you become a completely new person that can handle anything? Lift yourself up through steps that you and the participants around you take? A little bit. But of course you can’t build a top career in one week. So I am always ready to help alumni with advice or a business referral. To get you in the media. Or in an internship. So you can get even closer to your dream. This way the Young Lady Business Academy continues to be a launch pad to (further) success long after that one intensive week.
Finally. Why am I devoting so much energy to the Young Lady Business Academy and why does it give me so much joy? Because at every edition I see ‘live’ again what a beautiful journey you can make as a young woman from self doubt to self confidence, from hopes to results, from rudderlessness to pure passion
And even more so because the outside world is often so adversary and undermining, I think it is the most beautiful journey possible.