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Career blogs

"Impact is made through diversity at the table"


Article written by Lena Sialino, TOPX Junior Ambassador

The morning TOPX session with keynote speaker Judith Zuijderhoudt (MSD) and moderator Rosanne Hertzberger (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) welcomed a lot of new TOPX members. It was a lively networking session where we shared our career highlights and discussed strategies to strengthen our sisterhood.

Rosanne Hertzberger facilitated the networking from the start of the session. We were encouraged to sit next to new faces and share our career highlights. Although sometimes uneasy, we should be less modest and share en celebrate our (many!) successes! It was great to see so many achievements among the new members of the TOPX network.

Judith Zuijderhoudt gave a personal presentation about her inspiration in her career and strategies to increase sisterhood among working women and men to ensure a seat at the table. An illustrative quote representing her goal was:

“Impact is made through diversity at the table”

Women in leadership positions have stopped growing and in her personal experience is not easy to get or stay in these positions. Two main reasons for this are:

- Glass ceiling à difficult to advance in your career

- Glass cliff à set up for failure

Judith shared that three women inspired her career; her grandmother, mother and daughter. She fights for equity in health, advancement and the workplace. She shared some personal strategies to tackle situations observed in the workplace among women to achieve her goals.

1. Shine theory = network helps you to advance quicker
Advice: invest in your network!

2. Bepealing or bropiation in public = the man is praised by the results of a women’s project by repeating her words.

Advice: speak up (repeat that this is indeed what SHE mentioned before) and find your allies.

3. Mansplaining = condescendingly explaining something to a woman

Advice: smile and wave. This is a very difficult problem to tackle and usually takes more effort than results.

4. Refusing non-value added work politely = women work much more hours without reward

Advice: think consciously about whether this work is bringing you something of value (salary, career advancement, network, etc.) and do not immediately respond with a yes, wait at least 24 hours.

5. Mirror speaking and body language = ensure to keep your seat at the table

Advice: it is less about content and more about the process. Always think about how much you want to change to be able to ensure change.

6. One-second rule = when giving the word, wait a full second before you speak.

Advice: it provides a natural source of power for people to listen to you. Also, always open and close a meeting. It is a very effective show of power.

Above all, Judith advocates becoming sisters and helping the sisters behind you and reaching out to sisters in front of you.

“Together we can accelerate”

About TOPX

TOPX is a network for female professionals in Life Sciences seeking career advancement in industry or academia. Curious what TOPX Network has to offer you, and interested in becoming a TOPX member too? See here for more information about the TOPX membership and all services we offer.

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