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Economy

Female CEOs v. Peter CEOs? Dutch Women Protest Stunning Gender Disparity

A campaign in the Netherlands is pushing for more gender parity in the business world by asking women to change their name on LinkedIn to "Peter." The name was chosen for this singularly shocking fact...

Female CEOs v. Peter CEOs? Dutch Women Protest Stunning Gender Disparity

Yeliz Çiçek, editor-in-chief of the Dutch edition of Vogue, was one of the first women to join the campaign

Meike Eijsberg

Logging onto Dutch LinkedIn earlier this week, you may have blinked twice. “Why are there so many people named ‘Peter’ on my timeline?”And why are they all women?”


Hundreds of Dutch women have changed their LinkedIn name to Peter since Monday to denounce the unequal gender representation in the workplace — especially in senior leadership roles.

The initiative was launched by Women Inc. and BrandedU, two organizations campaigning for more inclusion of women in the business world, — and zeroed in on the name Peter for good reason: with 93 listed companies in the Netherlands (and a total of 94 CEOs), five of those CEOs are named Peter, and four are women. Yes, more Peter CEOs than women CEOs...

Burden of proof

On January 1, a Dutch law came into force with the goal of ensuring a better ratio of men to women in the top ranks of the business world. At least one-third of the supervisory boards of listed companies (with more than 250 employees) must consist of women. “But we must do more!” the organizations stated.

Yeliz Çiçek, editor-in-chief of the Dutch edition of Vogue, was one of the first women to join the campaign and changed her name. “I think it’s brilliant. Everyone immediately understands what this is about!”, NOS reports.

Although they support the cause, others are less enthusiastic about this campaign and argue that changing one’s name erases one’s identity, according to RTL nieuws. “Once again, the burden of proof and effort for the campaign lies with women and not men,” one woman said.

Men change to Petra

At the same time, some men have changed their name to Petra in solidarity.

“We think this spontaneous action is really great,” another spokesperson of Women INC said according to Het Parool. “This shows that it’s not just a women’s problem, but that we have to do it together.”

The Peter (and Petra) campaign runs until January 28.

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