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Lidewij Wiersma

Lidewij Wiersma

Bracciano, Italy

Lidewij Wiersma is a veterinary specialist with a PhD in emerging coronaviruses. She is the CEO of the European Board of Veterinary Specialisation and consults for the United Nations.

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About the author

As an introverted veterinarian with a PhD in emerging coronaviruses, Lidewij's friends sometimes jokingly ask whether she had any involvement in the release of COVID-19. To be clear, she did not but it is undeniable that some good things came out of COVID-19 for her, including her renewed interest in writing. Writing about gender issues might not seem the most obvious topic for someone with her background; she is not a gender specialist by any stretch of the imagination. However, she does have some experience with being a female (about 38 years), being in the workplace (about 13 years), being in leadership positions (about 4 years) and being a working mother (about 2 years). From this experience she can only conclude that we can, and must, do better if we want a more balanced workforce. Lidewij's contribution to this process is by writing and, hopefully, by leading by example. The veterinary profession is young and female. She writes for them and for everyone else who starts out juggling frantically and barely keeping all balls in the air.

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Chantal Korteweg

Chantal was originally trained as a lawyer and therefore feels strongly about social justice. She currently works as the Director Inclusive Banking at Dutch bank ABN AMRO and initiated the Fempower Your Growth partnership, a Dutch Financial Sector initiative, connecting the worlds of bankers and female entrepreneurs. She has been appointed as the Dutch Women's Representative 2023 and will provide a statement to the UN General Assembly in 2023.

Trained as a lawyer, Chantal feels strongly about social justice. She is a strategic executor and contributes to making our world a better, inclusive and sustainable place. She is a proud mother of a son and daughter and has become an all-round professional as an attorney-at-law, a development banker, and now she is the director for Inclusive Banking at ABN AMRO. She grew up in England and the Netherlands, sparking her love for travel, culture, and different perspectives. She enjoys getting the best out of herself and others and always wants to learn. She initiated the Fempower Your Growth program, a Dutch Financial Sector initiative, connecting the worlds of bankers and female entrepreneurs. She pays it forward by being a mentor and an advisory board member. She has been appointed as the Women’s Representative for the Netherlands in 2023.

Tessel van Willigen

Tessel is a management trainee at Hieroo Amsterdam where she works on different social projects to create positive impact in the region. She has a Master Human Geography and is specialised in International Development Studies. As a connector, Tessel excels in bringing together different cultures, disciplines, and points of view. Tessel interned for Incredible impact, a company founded with the aim to unlock the potential of female entrepreneurs and female leaders in service of a better world.

Tessel is continuously in search of new insights, has a passion to learn and does not shy away from challenging situations. As part of her bachelor’s degree, she spent one semester studying at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. There she found her strength as a connector: bringing together different cultures, disciplines and points of view, to make a positive difference. Tessel couples her strong analytical mind with an enthusiastic and hands-on mentality to create positive impact. She was an intern at Incredible Impact, a company founded with the aim to unlock the potential of female entrepreneurs and female leaders in service of a better world.

Marijn Wiersma

Marijn is the founder of Incredible Impact and currently works as Director of Partnership and Innovation at the 2X Collaborative. She is the co-author of the book “Banking for a Better World,” and is an expert on diversity & financial inclusion. As a visionary, multi-linguist, and free thinker, she is creative, curious, and innovative. She’s lived on three continents, worked in over 35 countries, and is a mother of four.

As a corporate anthropologist, Marijn likes to inspire people with her vision: unlocking potential of women in service of a better world. She is an ESG and gender expert, executive coach, has co-authored the book ‘Banking for a Better World’, loves storytelling, organized TEDxLeiden and Future of Finance events, facilitated female leadership programs, and has made a docuseries on female rolemodels in the financial sector. Her twenty plus years of sustainable development experience led her to Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe. As the founder of my company Incredible Impact and of Zambia’s first private nursing school, I know what it takes to do good and make money. Her husband, their four children and Marijn have lived on three continents.





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If SOS: A Survival Guide for Women at Work hits 500 pre-orders by Sunday 1 January 2023 noon UTC, then it will be pitched to 12 traditional publishers when the campaign ends. If SOS: A Survival Guide for Women at Work hits 250 pre-orders by Sunday 1 January 2023 noon UTC, then it will be pitched to 14 hybrid publishers when the campaign ends. If SOS: A Survival Guide for Women at Work hits 500 pre-orders by Sunday 1 January 2023 noon UTC, then it will be pitched to 33 publishers when the campaign ends.
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Publishizer is a crowdfunding literary agency. If 500 pre-orders is reached, then we pitch this proposal to traditional publishers. If not reached, then it gets pitched to non-traditional publishers.

SOS: A Survival Guide for Women at Work

This book provides insights as to why there is no gender equality at work. We provide an accessible and practical guide for women and men to improve gender equality, embrace diversity and rewrite the unwritten rules of the workplace.

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Management & Leadership #1 in Management & Leadership
37,500 words
50% complete
2 publishers interested


Guilt. It’s a pervasive emotion that many women have in common: regardless of age, nationality, ethnicity, economic level, sexuality, or profession. When we’re working, we feel guilty for not spending time with our children (or pets!). When we’re spending time with others, we feel guilty about everything we haven’t done at work. We feel guilty about not calling our friends; we feel guilty when we hang out with our friends instead of visiting our mother. During the COVID-19 lockdown, even as we worked full-time from home, taught our children how to read and write and cope with isolation, helped family members recover from COVID, recovered from COVID ourselves, we felt guilty because we weren’t also writing a book and learning three new languages.

We believe we must always be visibly progressing, and when we’re not, we should be doing more.

At the same time, we also recognize the deck is still systemically stacked against us. Although we have made progress over the last decades, many challenges regarding workplace equality remain. There’s a gender leadership gap, a gender pay gap, a gender promotion gap, a gender recruitment gap, a gender networking gap, a gender role modelling gap, a gender conflict gap, a gender working hours gap, a gender confidence gap, and we can go on and on. As a result, many women across the globe don’t feel they can achieve their full potential at work. And to make matters worse, the COVID-19 pandemic could reverse some of the progress made on gender equality and women’s rights over the past decades, with more women than men staying home to care for family members during the pandemic, and a documented increase in home violence.

To add to the list, women are expected to parent as if they don’t work, and work as if they are not a parent. No wonder women are overwhelmed!

But the solution is not simply to try harder, nor is it to wait for the system to change. Believing the problem is one or the other just leads to frustration and burnout.

We need an SOS: a empowering, multifaceted approach addressing self, others, and system.

As four professional intergenerational women, together we are a CEO, entrepreneur, board member, intern, ex-colleagues, friends, complete strangers, sisters, gender specialist, director of inclusive banking, and a former executive committee member. We have a total of 8 children, aged 0 to 25 years. Between us, we have lived, worked, studied in over 25 countries in 5 continents and visited many, many more. Our personalities are as diverse as our professions: introvert, extrovert, sweet, edgy, empathic, driven, chaotic, precise, creative, each with our own stories, strengths, weaknesses, and fears. We have a variety of work experiences, ranging from soaring success to flat-on-your-face failure, and everything in between. We all share this sense of pressure as women, and together we began seeking a solution.

As varied as our experiences are, we are also aware of their limitations and the lens of our privileged Dutch background, so we reached out to interview 20 global leaders (women and men from four continents with different professional backgrounds) to learn from their experience. We went on to validate our findings and insights with many more professionals through focus groups. And although our list of professions does not include organizational psychologist, writer, or editor, we decided to overcome our own sense of imposter syndrome and share what we have learned from our (undoubtedly flawed and incomplete) experience, research, interviews with global role models, focus groups and lively discussions on common workplace challenges facing professional women around the globe—and real solutions.

SOS: A Survival Guide for Women at Work addresses 18 common challenges faced by women, including productivity, parenting, the pay gap—and, of course, guilt. These multifaceted issues need multifaceted solutions, so for each topic we offer the SOS framework: (1) Self: what can you do yourself, (2) Others: how can others help you and how can you help others, and (3) System: how the system and the (unwritten) rules should change—and what you can do to support this change.

If this book helps you address even one small part of one obstacle or help you improve, we will have achieved what we set out
to do. Hopefully all the tiny incremental changes will eventually contribute to a shift in our work culture to reflect a more diverse, balanced, happier and more productive workforce.

Sales arguments

  • As four intergenerational authors, we have a large platform from which to market our book. Our networks include different organizations focused on female leadership, finance, and entrepreneurship, such as the 2X Challenge, GenderSmart, XOCO Unlimited, and Fempower your Growth, as well as the European Board of Veterinary Specialisation. These organizations are willing to share our book with their members. Their outreach is cumulatively an audience of 8500+ people.
  • The 20 global role models featured in this book are incredible, successful leaders with large audiences and networks. They are also willing to share this book with their communities. Examples include: Professor George Kohlrieser, IMD professor; Ingrid Thijssen, CEO, employers association of the Netherlands; Suzanne Biegel, CEO, Gender Smart community; Peter van Mierlo, former chairman, PWC Europe and Kshama Fernandez, CEO, Indian fintech company, mentioned in Forbes women.
  • Marijn has appeared in NRC.Handselsblad (for our non-Dutch readers, this is the New York Times of the Netherlands) and has published the book Banking for a Better World.
  • Chantal has appeared in the Opzij, a Dutch feminist magazine; was nominated as one of the fifty leading women in sustainable finance in 2022 by LOF and WIFS (Women in Financial Services); nominated as one of the thirty most inclusive leaders in the Netherlands in 2022 in SPROUT (a Dutch management magazine) and was appointed as the Women’s Representative for the Netherlands to address the UN Assembly in New York in 2023.
  • An edited chapter of our book has been published in Harvard Business Review:

Similar titles

  • 'Women and Leadership: Real Lives, Real Lessons' by Julia Gillard and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Published by MIT Press (2021). Gillard and Okonjo-Iweala offer real-life advice and tips for female leaders in the workplace. But rather than solely focusing on gender equality in leadership positions, 'SOS: A Survival Guide for Women at Work' addresses challenges women of all positions within a company face, both at work and at home.
  • 'What Works for Women at Work: Four Patterns Working Women Need to Know', by Joan C. Williams and Rachel Dempsey. Published by New York University Press (2014). What Works for Women at Work is an insightful guide for mastering office politics as a woman. The authors cite four patterns of behavior that women must overcome in order to advance: 1) prove it again, 2) the tightrope, 3) the maternal wall, and 4) tug of war. But rather than imply women’s obstacles to advancement are solely based on their own behav
  • 'How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits of Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Next Promotion or Job', by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith. Published by Hachette Books (2018). Much like What Works for Women at Work, Helgesen and Goldsmith identify twelve personal habits that hold women back as they seek to advance. However, 'SOS: A Survival Guide for Women at Work' does not solely focus on individual habits but includes practical advice for organizational and societal changes as well.


The primary audience for 'SOS: A Survival Guide for Women at Work' are professional women of any age, cultural background and industry who have tried changing themselves, or advocating for change, but neither approach alone has worked and they've gotten discouraged in the process. The secondary audience includes HR directors or any organizational leaders of all genders in charge of training programs for companies who want to invest in making their organization more equitable but without compromising productivity or profitability. And the tertiary audience includes professionals of all genders who want to be an ally in creating a more equitable workplace and world for all.

Advance praise

Advance praise on our chapter about Guilt:

"It’s such a wonderfully and empathically written chapter—it’s brilliant. I hope more people will read the chapter and eventually the book. It gave me a huge exhale moment. Reading it was a cathartic experience. Have shared widely."

- Dr. Khetsiwe Dlamini, Executive Director of Triple C Advisory, an Africa-originated, female-owned, global gender lens advisory firm

"Amazing chapter! So fun to read. Love the witty tone and important insights. Can’t wait to get the book!"

- Jen Braswell, Managing Director and Head of Impact, Private Capital at EQT

"An amazing book written with wit and humor and filled with inspiration, insights, and solutions as to what it takes to be a woman at work. THIS IS A MUST-READ BOOK FOR WOMEN AND FOR MEN!"

- George A. Kohlrieser, Hostage negotiator, distinguished Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behaviour at IMD Business School in Switzerland and author of “Care to Dare” and "Hostage at the Table"

2 publishers interested Express interest

The publishers will be visible after the campaign has ended.

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