I founded the Boardroom to fight “Onliness”


Written by Diana Markaki - Bartholdi, Founder - the Boardroom

This one goes out to all the “Onlys”.


Senior-level women are nearly twice as likely as women overall to be “Onlys” - the only or one of the only women in the room at work. While we are celebrating the success of women that are “Onlys”, we often forget that being the only woman in a room full of men can be isolating and poses a new challenge: staying at the top. While getting to the top requires resilience and courage, staying at the top requires community and support — two things that women in power often lack compared to their male peers.


It also poses another challenge: women who are Onlys are more likely than women who work with other women to experience microaggressions, including needing to provide additional evidence of their competence. We know women are more likely to experience discrimination in the workplace than men, but the odds are higher still when women find themselves alone in a group of men.


What was your first “only” moment? Mine was being the only woman in a room full of older men and about to tell them that their strategy did not work. Whatever your “only” or “first” moment, my guess is that it brought with it anxiety, pressure, and a sense of being on the spot: if you said or did the wrong thing, stereotypes would get reinforced or prejudices confirmed.


To all the “Onlys” out there, I SEE you and I am rooting for you. You no longer have to do it alone. This is why I founded the Boardroom.


the Boardroom is a private club for senior-level women in Switzerland that aims to create and cultivate an active pipeline of qualified female leaders to fill corporate board positions.

My mission is to create diverse corporate boards, that are an accurate representation of the customers our companies serve and the society we live in. The gender gap on boards across Switzerland is significant, with 67% of Swiss companies currently having no women on their board. And even on boards with female representation, the composition includes only 12-15% women. This means that most women serving on boards in Switzerland do so as the ONLY female in the room.


There is no ‘silver bullet’ to ensure gender equality has been achieved. Continued vigilance is required. But I believe that placing more women in leadership positions, especially at the board level, is an important step, because change in culture takes time, and to drive change, you need more role models, to lead it from the top.


There is a huge sense of urgency to start creating solutions for board gender imbalances now, and we at the Boardroom are determined to do something about it.


See you in the Boardroom.