Apples and cinnamon

Cobouw column by Hannie Dierx

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Equal pay, economic independence, diversity targets, women in senior management, glass ceilings, etc. Twenty years ago, I promised myself that I would tackle these issues by taking action rather than just talking or writing about them. Today, I work fulltime, five days a week, while my partner looks after our children. I now feel the need to commit my thoughts to paper.

When my partner and I visit the mother-and-child clinic, the female paediatrician always talks to me as if my partner is not even in the room. The male doctor talks to both of us. It is always the mothers at the school gates who ask me how much time off work my partner gets to look after the children, and whether I feel guilty about working so much. I once met a lady who asked, “Are all four yours? And what does your husband do for a living?” I still remember my grandmother’s words of wisdom: “It’s all very well studying aerospace technology but they should send you all to housekeeping school for a couple of years first.” She was, of course, absolutely right: it never hurts to know the basics of cooking and cleaning. But to all the other women I say this: Come on – help me here! Don’t just accept things as they are but pursue your ambitions. If you want to reach the top, go for it. No one else is going to do it for you. And let me add my sincere thanks to all those women (and men) who have already acted on this advice.

But girls will be girls, eh? Always changing our minds. Before long, we’ll all want to stay at home and look after the children. That is something that a growing group of men will understand. Yesterday, I came home to the unmistakeable aroma of apples and cinnamon. My eldest son ran to me and said, ‘Mama, mama, I’ve missed you!’ before proudly showing me the apple pie he had baked. And from somewhere behind me I heard the comment, “You career women are crazy – you had the best job in the world!’.

Hannie Dierx
Manager Witteveen+Bos office The Hague

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