What parallel parking skills have to do with quota for women leaders


I am really good at reverse parking, in parallel too. I just enjoy a smooth single-move park. The reason I am bringing this up, is not to boost my ego, but to to make a point about having quota for women in leadership positions. A topical discussion in the Netherlands since the Social Economical Council (SER) advised the government last week to make a (whooping) 30% women in supervisory boards (!) mandatory for listed companies.

I am unsure the supervisory board is the place to start, but that aside, let’s just focus on anything in that direction becoming mandatory. I have been in doubt about quota for a long time but organic change is so extremely slow in this conservative country, that I am now leaning in the direction of the SER. Let me clarify that by telling you about my outstanding parking skills.

I am good at it. I have had people literally applauding me in the streets, once an older gentleman took off his hat to bow for me, finger whistle homages from across the street have happened, no kidding. I don’t get a weekly cheer so when I do, I just wholeheartedly enjoy the 5 seconds of fame.

How many men get compliments?

So by now I am quite aware that it is a stand out thing to do a good parallel park. Let’s do a test – how many men get compliments on their parking? So far i haven’t heard a positive reaction and i know some men I asked to be minimally in my league or ahead. My point is of course – although i would love to believe to be absolutely remarkable at something – that my parking is nothing but proper. It is nowhere near sensational yet i get (and enjoy) a silly amount of praise. Which can – sadly – only happen against the prejudice of women and reverse parking.

Good at it… for a woman

Also I have been told to be good at kiting…, for a woman. The kite surf instructor wrapped up a day of blood sweat and tears on the beach with saying: ‘you are great at flying a kite, you have an excellent feel for it….’ and just when he made me feel warm and fuzzy, swallowing my beginner frustration, he added ‘…for a woman’. I’ll spare you what followed.

Fast thinkers need prejudice

Of course people conclude things based on prejudice; earlier experience and what society has taught them. That is how the brain work and that is how it should work, we have too many decisions to make to think them all through. But prejudice is not what should influence sound, important business decisions about individuals.


This everyday story is really for everyone who thinks that such biases no longer exist, for those who naturally assume that the world already is equal between the sexes. So if you really don’t think anything is needed to eliminate disadvantages, just ask any lady who can properly park a car.