Gender and Leadership – the first seminar organised by ILLP students

This year, students of the International Leiden Leadership Programme have the opportunity to take ownership of their own learning process, by organising their own seminars. ILLP student András Pleszel shares his experiences from the first seminar on Gender and Leadership.

Not feminists

As a new element of the International Leiden Leadership Programme, we have the chance to organise our own seminars on Leadership and determine our own topics. The subject of the first seminar was Gender and Leadership which was a perfect occasion to discuss this current and highly debated topic. Before the seminar started, the audience was asked who considers themselves a feminist. As it turned out the majority of the group didn’t.

Gender Inequality

However, after listening to an interesting presentation on feminisim and gender inequality by the organising students and watching a couple of thought-provoking videos on gender inequality and feminism, we learnt how controversial the word “feminism” is. We tend to associate it with negative stigmas and we have a lot of misconceptions about the concept. As a result, by the end of the first section a couple of us changed their minds and realised that they may be feminists after all.
The first half of the seminar ended with a short but heated discussion on women’s quota systems.

The importance of diversity

In the second part, the organizers invited drs. Karen Kragt to hold a presentation on the given topic. She is a partner at Van der Laan & Company, a company which offers search services for executive and non-executive boards in a more diverse way regarding gender and cultural background. From her passionate lecture we learnt the importance of diversity in the life of a company and she stressed that the importance of diversity goes beyond (gender) equality. Hiring a homogenous group prevents the company from valuable self-reflective mechanisms.

Personal Leadership

Mrs. Kragt also told us several stories from her personal life in which she encountered inequality because of the fact that she is a woman. She then went on to introduce four dimensions of personal leadership and taught us her take on the equation of success in personal leadership.

Although the organisers had little time to prepare this seminar, they did an impressive job. After the seminar the discussion on gender and leadership continued in a more informal way in a pub nearby which is a proof of the thought-provoking nature of the seminar and the importance of the topic.

András Pleszel, ILLP student

Last Modified: 31-03-2015