The Limburg directors are called Peter, or Petra, this week, but…

Dutch listed companies have more companies with a director named Peter than with a woman at the helm. According to research by Women Inc. and BrandedU. Therefore, women are heavily underrepresented in decision-making positions and therefore have much less influence than men. Thus, hundreds of women changed their first name to Peter on the online social network LinkedIn this week. In doing so, they draw attention to the unequal division of men and women in the workplace. To support this initiative, some men decided to change their name to Petra.

Andrea Theunissen-Gielen.

Photo: Jan-Paul Kuit

Peter Theunissen-Gielen (51) by Posterholt

Partner and Brand Manager Air Internet

If Andrea Theunissen-Gielen can contribute to the discussion, she will be happy to do so. “I have two sons and my sister three daughters. All in their twenties. I can already see the differences there, they are approached very differently. My children can go anywhere to intern and work, while my nieces have to prove themselves everywhere and always.”

So this week he called Peter on LinkedIn. In three languages, Dutch, German and English, he explains why he is in favor of more diversity. “A playful but also serious action. Many people, especially men, think that inequality between women and men does not exist. That doesn’t happen in the Netherlands, I’ve never experienced it, I heard. Well, yes, according to research. Women in decision-making positions, but really everywhere, are only profitable.”

Many men work in their own IT company. “However, we always try very actively to seek out women.” His ‘new’ name on LinkedIn has generated a lot of positive reactions. “It’s good to see that I’ve made people think this way.”

Limburg directors are called this week Peter or Petra, but 'you don't just change a world in which men have been in charge for thousands of years'

Annick Teeuwen.

Photo: Jan-Paul Kuit

Peter Teeuwen (39) from Maastricht

Director FAM! specialized center for women’s issues

Annick Teeuwen is called Peter on LinkedIn this week. She calls it too strange for words that there are more directors named Peter than there are female directors. “This makes it immediately clear what is going on. Inequality then becomes concrete and insightful, though of course this is only one aspect. I notice that there is still a lot of ignorance about gender inequality. People often think it’s about the pay gap and the glass ceiling.”

According to her, raising awareness is the first step towards greater equality. “Of course many steps have been taken, but there is still a lot to do. Research shows that if women’s potential is better utilized, society will gain billions. And that’s not even talking about all the happiness in life. So it’s a real shame not to take those steps.”

She was looking for FAM herself! a male driver but there was no response. The men she approached either weren’t interested or didn’t have time for it at the moment. “It’s a shame, because that way we miss half the population.”

Limburg directors are called this week Peter or Petra, but 'you don't just change a world in which men have been in charge for thousands of years'

Jaap Spanish.

Photo: Annemiek Moms

Spanish Petra (62) by Stein

Water consultant at Kragten BV

Jaap Spaans regularly talks about the male/female ratio with his wife. “For about thirty years. Now I’m that stereotypical white man. Naturally, they asked me: what can you do about it? I immediately thought, I will also change my name on LinkedIn. It’s my modest contribution but it already feels very uncomfortable to be called Petra in public in front of seven or eight hundred contacts. But of course it’s nothing compared to what women sometimes experience.”

“In my work, especially in a male environment, there are discussions about this and we also try to be aware of the ratio between men and women.” The Spaniard has not made a clear statement on his LinkedIn profile. “I thought that was too active. You cannot simply change this world in which men have ruled for thousands of years. Sometimes you have no idea. But I do my best, I’m aware of it, I check in and correct myself. Out of solidarity with women, I have changed my name for this week. Solidarity is an important part of the necessary change.”

Limburg directors are called this week Peter or Petra, but 'you don't just change a world in which men have been in charge for thousands of years'

Erik Keulers.

Photo: Jan-Paul Kuit

Petra Keulers (47) from Nederweert

Secretary-Director Limburg Water Board

Erik Keulers finds “a very strange idea that men can run an organization better than women.” She did not hesitate for a moment to support her action by changing her name to Petra. “If I make people think through my small contribution, my goal has already been achieved.” Her own team at the Water Board consists of two men and two women. “I’m happy with that. We look and think differently about solutions and complement each other that way. Gathering like-minded people around you is probably easier but ultimately deadly for your organization. You want a constant dynamic ”.

Why then are there even fewer women than Peters at the top of companies? “Because everything is assumed. That women have a different work-life balance or are too emotional. Nonsense. Dare to break with those prejudices”.

Petra stays with her profile all week. “But next week I can call myself Achmed to draw attention to even more diversity. And that also starts with opening up to others.”

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