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This article was published on May 11, 2008

Female Internet Heroes in Holland

Female Internet Heroes in Holland
Simone Brummelhuis
Story by

Simone Brummelhuis

Simone worked as a successful lawyer before becoming an entrepreneur by setting up her own B2B publishing company Brummsbooks. Thereafter, a Simone worked as a successful lawyer before becoming an entrepreneur by setting up her own B2B publishing company Brummsbooks. Thereafter, as co-owner and managing director of IENS (, she developed this start-up into the no. 1 user generated content database publisher of restaurant guides in The Netherlands. With the, she intends to do the same. She works with Linde Wolters on a book about Female Internet Heroes and launches

The Netherlands may be known as a liberal country with equal opportunities for men and women, but somehow we managed that in terms of women in the board room, we are doing not so well. While in the United States almost one out of five corporate officers are women, in Europe the female to male ratio on company boards is not even one to twenty. And in Holland it is even less….. However, Norway has set the agenda by imposing a minimum female mandatory quota of 40% in company-boards. And guess what: it works! Heleen Mees of women-on-top and Marieke Bax of Topbrainstorm have urged companies and our government to do the same over here. I support this. It makes sound economic sense. Moreover, studies show that companies with more women in senior management are more profitable than those with few women at the top.

With these developments taking place, let’s see which female internet heroes in The Netherlands can act as such role model and fulfill the quota. Indeed, these women can bring entrepreneurial internet knowledge into the board room.

Female internet heroes are strongly represented in media, such as Marianne Zwagerman, director of Dutch Telegraaf Media Group and Lara Ankersmit, director of, the second largest news site in the Netherlands with a strong user generated content component. Dutch Dragon Den’s Annemarie van Gaal, is founder of AM Media but more known as a keen investor in media companies like

In more technological driven companies, serial entrepreneur Christine Karman springs to mind, who is founder of Zaphod and member of the advisory board of Technika10, an organisation who provides science and technology classes to girls. Also, I point out CEO Petra van Schayik of Compumatica, founder and CEO Karen Loeffen of Libersy and Jacqueline Smit, country manager of MSN. Although how come that Microsoft is organizing an event, the Dev Days, with no single female speaker?

Some very popular sites were founded or led by women, such as weekendjeweg by CEO Marianne Baars, which was sold to Holidaybreak, by founder Janet Sellis, which was sold to Sanoma and by founder and CEO Yvonne Swaans who went to the Alternative Investment Market at the London Stock Exchange.

Good catch are also some international female internet heroes living and working in The Netherlands, such as CEO Nancy McKinstrey of Wolters Kluwer, ranked in the top ten of the most powerful women in Europe by The Financial Times and founder Marina Tognetti of Myngle, com, a startup global marketplace in language education.

So who said that we cannot fulfill the quota?

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