The Leadership Programme (LP) consists of two main parts: the professional training sessions and research by the participants. Currently, the LP participants are executing their ambitious researches. The studies have a focus on either one of these TopFem goals: ambition, empowerment, network, mentorship and leadership development.
To give you an idea on what the LP participants are investigating, you can gain some insights on what kind of research is being conducted and who the young women behind these projects are. This time, we interviewed research duo Dominique Vleeskens and Christel van Binsbergen.
Introducing Dominique and Christel
Dominique (22 years) and Christel (24 years) are two ambitious women who both joined this year’s TopFem Leadership Programme. Dominique currently studies Public International Law, a selective and specialized research graduate program, at the University of Amsterdam. She aspires to do an accelerated three-year PhD track, because obtaining new perspectives into the rules of international law and transposing those in a good manner to the public is in her opinion one of the most important aspects and even a duty of the legal profession.
Next to being a very busy and ambitious woman, we can find Dominique outdoors. Her hobbies are skiing, hiking and traveling. Dominique got to know TopFem through Fien van Rossum, this year's chairwoman, via LinkedIn. Both Dominique and Fien graduated from the Honours College of Leiden University.
"In my academic and professional career I hope to make a significant contribution to civil society."
Christel got her Bachelor in Public Administration and Economics cum laude from Leiden University. Next to her bachelor, she also participated in the Honours College of Leiden University. As she is always interested in exploring new countries and cultures, Christel took the opportunity to study abroad in South Africa for half a year. Currently, Christel is doing a Master in Organizational Change and Consulting at the Rotterdam School of Management (Erasmus University). She is passionate about everything that has to do with entrepreneurship and developing new ideas, and her aspiration is to start her own business in the future. In her free time, Christel loves to go surfing or exercising outdoors, and when she has some more time, to travel the world.
"I am a firm believer that once you do what you’re passionate about, you will have success with it."
As both Christel and Dominique are very ambitious and curious ladies, they aimed at focusing their research topic on something new. After some brainstorming, they agreed that their research was going to focus on female entrepreneurship. They came up with this idea as entrepreneurship has always been of Christel’s interest. When searching in the literature, they actually discovered that research on female entrepreneurship is scarce and almost non-existing when linking it to empowerment.
"I was up for something outside of my own field of study or comfort zone."
By having conversations with different female entrepreneurs of different ages and backgrounds, they are aiming to gain a deeper understanding of what drives these women to start their own business. At least as interesting, they want to investigate if there is an aspect of women empowerment in female entrepreneurship. Christel and Dominique chose to make use of their own network. Therefore, they posted a request on LinkedIn. Currently, they are scheduling and conducting interviews with multiple female entrepreneurs.
"Both Dominique and I are super curious about the stories of these strong women."
The aim of the research is to provide more insight, understanding and awareness of what motivates women to start their own business. In addition, they want to answer questions like “How do these women experience their journey as entrepreneurs? Might it function as a way of women empowerment?”. Combined with a good cup of coffee, Christel and Dominique are looking forward to the fascinating stories behind these female entrepreneurs.