The subject of workforce diversity is increasingly in the spotlight. Diversity practice is one of the core pillars of Van der Laan & Co, and our practice is based on a long-term effort to ensure that women executives are considered for and appointed top positions for which they are qualified.

As advocates of diversity and gender inequality research, Van der Laan & Co offered an internship to Sjoukje de Haan in September 2016. Sjoukje won a scholarship at Rotterdam Business School to finalize her Master’s Degree at Tilburg University.  She conducted research into the motivational factors according to Higgins’ regulatory focus theory of female executives in the public and private domain. Knowing and understanding what kind of women are most attracted to a career in the public or private sector is an important step in recruiting and retaining women in these sectors.

Sjoukje conducted this research in connection with her master thesis from Tilburg University. Approaching more than 5,242 women from the Van der Laan & Company network in management, board, and supervisory positions. Within two weeks, 1,058 women (more than 20%!) filled the structured online questionnaire for this study.

You can read the findings of this survey here.


This year Sjoukje wanted to give something back to Rotterdam Business School by offering a seminar. This is when she met a group of five female students, Carlijn van, Tessa Trejo, Sha’uri Correa, Svea Geerdes and Heidi Galbraith who performed this new research amongst students aged between 18-23.


There are certain traits associated with ‘masculinity’ that still tend to be valued more highly in today’s society. This results in inequality of opportunities & discrimination on the job market for instance. The problem is not the difference between men and women as individuals, but it is the difference in how they are valued on the job market.


The main research question:

  • Would students of the Rotterdam Business School be interested to learn more about gender inequality at work?

The sub-questions:

  • How much are students aware of the existence of gender inequality?
  • When and in what situations have students experienced gender inequality?
  • How big is their interest to learn more about this topic?


The data was collected via a questionnaire which included questions related to gender inequality on the job market.


  • Both genders agreed on the question whether gender inequality exists or not. 87% of Male and 89% of Female respondents believe that gender inequality exists.
  • 65% of female respondents and 57% of male respondents stated they have been treated differently due to their gender.
  • More than 70% of the male respondents stated that it will help them. Most women, more than 70%, think that gender differences will hold them back in their career.


Overall, men and women agree on most points. Both genders think, that gender inequality exists, and have experienced it multiple times. Women think that gender differences will hold them back, men think that it will help them in pursuing their career.

Most respondents think that there is not enough being done about gender inequality. More females want to know more about how to influence gender inequality than men.


The research of Sjoukje and the students of Rotterdam Business Schools research is vital to continue to raise awareness of the topic. We had hoped that inclusive thinking and gender equality would have developed further in the minds of the millennials. However, these results show that there is still lots of influencing, education to be done.

Interesting findings, which can be read in full here

Van der Laan & Co en Partners at Work gaan samen:
met dubbele kracht vooruit

De twee meest toonaangevende executive search bureaus op het gebied van diversiteit, Van der Laan & Co en Partners at Work, hebben hun krachten gebundeld. Vijf ambitieuze vrouwelijke ondernemers zetten hun succesvolle aanpak vanaf 1 februari samen voort onder de naam: Partners at Work