The festive Lead Your Future kick-off ceremony on Wednesday, 15 November was attended by celebrities like actor/dancer Juvat Westendorp and the Healthy Sisters, who discussed healthy diets and female leadership.

The initiative’s mission is to empower girls, i.e. to boost their self-confidence so as to prepare them for leadership roles in society.


Five thousand female pupils and students aged 13-21 from all over the country (but particularly from Rotterdam) will take part in the Lead Your Future programme. As part of the programme, which was developed by EUR, the participants will attend leadership workshops over the course of two years.

They will receive guidance from male and female EUR students, and they will be matched to an organisation in which they are interested, where they will then be able to take a look. In addition, they will be able to connect to each other through the online Lead Your Future community.

Culture change

According to Hanneke Takkenberg, a Professor at Erasmus MC who also serves as the university’s Chief Diversity Officer, the programme was established because female potential in organisations often goes unexplored. “To this day, there are relatively few women in leadership positions. This is due to society’s implicit bias with regard to women’s role. We must become aware of this bias so as to be able to change things.”

Not everyone is happy with the focus on promoting female talent. Takkenberg has received some complaints from male academics who felt they were being put at a disadvantage in their efforts to get promoted. “A culture change always comes with a certain amount of friction. Men have benefitted from inequality for hundreds of years. Now that this situation is being rectified, they sometimes feel badly done by. But it’s time women caught up with men in terms of leadership positions.”

Students of EUR can still sign up to become coach with this link.