As one company representative once told mechanical engineering student Sophie de Vries Robbé: “You can always pick the R.V.S.V. ladies out.” De Vries Robbé is president of the association for the current year, which celebrates its hundredth anniversary this year.
“This representative told me that our members aren’t afraid to air their opinions and they stand out because of their enthusiasm,” De Vries Robbé added. “I feel very proud whenever I hear something like that. Of course you shouldn’t generalise, but I do think that this description hits the nail on the head as far as most of us are concerned.”
Learning from mistakes
The association has been in existence for one century this year. It was established in 1915, and officially came into being on 12 February 1916. Strictly speaking, however, the association is not quite as old as that, as it disbanded on 7 November 1941 and reformed on 11 Augustus 1945. It has undergone quite a few changes over the years: it has moved to new premises on three occasions, it has seen a great many different activities come and go and it is attracting an increasing number of members.
But R.V.S.V. member Frederique Vogely says that the atmosphere has always remained the same. Vogely is on the centenary book committee whose task is to compile a book on 100 years of R.V.S.V. “It doesn’t matter who you talk to, they all say the same. If you ask them about their favourite memories, they all tell you about the friends they made, and how they see the association as a sort of family and also that they learnt a lot from it,” Vogely says.
Vogely and De Vries Robbé are both able to identify with these views. “What I really love about the R.V.S.V. is that it gives you the scope and opportunity to achieve personal growth,” says Vogely. “You can make mistakes and learn from them, which you can’t do in the business world. And it teaches you to persevere simply because of the opportunity to learn from your own mistakes.”
You can really be yourself
And it’s no wonder that the R.V.S.V. ladies are persevering people. “It started off as a small group of women who were studying economics,” says De Vries Robbé. Those women must have had plenty of guts, because the Economics programme was male-dominated in those days. Possibly this might be the reason why the ladies felt drawn to one another, and why the association still attracts women. “I was the only one at secondary school who went to Rotterdam to study,” De Vries Robbé adds. “I got to know the association during Eureka Week and I felt at home straight away, simply because it was females-only. If there are men present, you tend to pay them too much attention. A females-only group allows you to really be yourself.”
So what about that persistent rumour that the R.V.S.V. will be joining forces with the R.S.C., its male equivalent? De Vries Robbé has to laugh at this. “I really don’t know where all these rumours come from,” she says. “We don’t have any plans for a merger, but we have agreed to work more closely together, for instance, by joint beer purchasing. After all, we are in the same club.” And what about the future? “Well, anything’s possible of course, but right now we’re staying as we are: two separate associations.”