Why I need to call out the ‘Balance Preacher’

My stance on anything that holds women back from reaching the top is tough, and so is my language. Any woman that thinks that women are better off working part time is a ‘Balanstrutje’ in my book! This translates to a Balance Preacher or as I call her – and bear with me while I explain to you why – a ‘Balance Bitch’. So take your pick.

Dutch women are smarter, stronger and better educated than probably ever before. And still they hardly make it to the top in politics, in management or to CEO. I am asking myself, why? As women, we can keep repeating the outworn stories about the ‘glass ceiling’ and about the ‘old boys network’ giving top positions to other men. But are those really the root of the problem?

The women in top positions that I have spoken with, emphasize that in their career they have never felt held back or discriminated by men. They know what they want and go for it, no matter what other people think. Instead of blaming everyone else, I think it makes much more sense to examine our own motives in search for an explanation for our lack of success at the top.

To express the strong sense of urgency I feel for this female soul search I don’t hesitate to hurl those strong words ‘Balance Bitch’ into the world!

With my own eyes I saw how women keep other women captive at a women’s conference for commissioners. A highly accomplished female international commissioner was stopped in the hallway with the question: “How do you balance this position with your private life?” I couldn’t believe my ears and thought ‘Really? Are we still living in the Dark Ages? How can this even be an issue in a well organized and prosperous country like The Netherlands?’

That very question proves to me that women in top positions aren’t judged on their merits on the job. They are solely judged on how they balance work, home, family, care giving, interests, sport and recreation. The most shocking part is that this is first and foremost women judging other women!

It is precisely that clingy woman in the hallway with her ‘balance question’ that motivates me me to spread the word Balanstrutje. This Balance Bitch is like a human breaking pedal, holding capable women back. She is the type that convinces another woman on her way to the top to take a part time job and settle for less. This sabotage can best be dealt with in no uncertain terms!

That is why I use ‘Balance Bitch’.

“Do you have a problem with balance?” I get asked by women who feel the term ‘Balance Bitch’ is harsh. “On the contrary,” I say, “balance is an important female strength. But if you strive for balance at all times and continuously guard that balance, you lose out on living, learning and joy. You are selling yourself and your talents short. And if you let that happen, balance is out of the window.”