UT students’ fight for gender equality

| Michaela Nesvarova

‘Is He or She?’ That is the name of an event held on Friday in DesignLab. This brainstorm is organized by UT students to support the HeForShe campaign by UN Women and to galvanize corporate diversity.

Photo by: Samantha Sophia on Unsplash

The 'Is He or She?' event aims to tackle the issues of diversity and gender equity at companies. One of its goals is to design specific solutions that could be applied in professional organizations, improving their diversity policies. The event is an initiative of two UT bachelor students, Florian Kleinhoven (ATLAS) and Alexandra Bâtea (European Studies), who are both passionate about the topic of equality.

‘If not me, who? If not now, when?’

Kleinhoven has been actively involved in the UN’s HeForShe campaign for several years, since he was a high school student. ‘HeForShe is a universal invitation for boys to join their counterparts in fight for equality. But it’s more than that. It’s about acceptance and tolerance,’ he says. ‘After the initiative was started in 2015, I realized there was no version of it in the Netherlands. I guess people didn’t think it was important enough.’ He did, though. Kleinhoven contacted the UN and agreed he would lead the Dutch branch himself.

Photo of Florian Kleinhoven (by Gerieke ter Denge-Pluimers, DesignLab) 

‘The initiative corresponded with what bothered me: inequity,’ Kleinhoven explains why he’s been representing HeForShe, organizing workshops and generally raising awareness about gender stereotypes. ‘Growing up, I wasn’t confronted with any stereotypes. When I started high school, I was suddenly confronted with the harsh reality that the rest of the world wasn't like that. I met a lot of people who discriminated. I wanted to do something about it. Just like Emma Watson said during the launch of the HeForShe campaign “If not me, who? If not now, when?” I will never forget that.’

‘No step is too small’

‘It’s our responsibility to change things and no step is too small,’ agrees the brainstorm’s co-organizer Alexandra Bâtea. She isn’t new to the topic either. ‘I have started a Lean In women’s circle in DesignLab. Everybody should do their own bit. I really believe there should be no differences based on gender and I want to contribute to this cause. I hope the event will raise awareness and help delete the gender-based differences that arise in the corporate world.’

'Everybody should do their own bit.'

The program

‘Is He or She?’ is taking place this Friday, the 23rd of March, in DesignLab. The event is open to everyone and will be held in English. The program will begin with talks by inspirational speakers, such as Mirjam Bult and Vanessa Evers. Those will be followed by business elevator pitches by various organizations, including Rabobank, the UT and Thales, that will present real cases and challenges they face when it comes to diversity and related policies. Participants will then try to come up with solutions to these challenges and present them to the companies, which will have the possibility to implement them. 

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