Yrsa researched nightlife in Rotterdam: "Openness is the key to change."

Spark interview with Yrsa Taytelbaum, 3rd-year MISOC student.
Jan van der Ploeg

Together with her fellow students Caya, Leonie, and Lisse Laurien, Yrsa Taytelbaum investigated how safe women feel in the Rotterdam nightlife. "I enjoy analysing issues that affect the world, especially those related to equality," she shares. As she just started her third year of the bachelor's degree in Management of International Social Challenges (MISOC), Yrsa talks in this Spark interview about her research, being a student, and her future.

Interesting Insights

The research provided intriguing insights, such as what women do to feel safer. Yrsa lists, "Wearing a more stereotypically masculine outfit instead of a dress usually attracts less attention from men with bad intentions. Ensure you always go out in a group, preferably with men you trust. And many women are extra cautious not to consume too much alcohol or drugs. They're accustomed to always being alert and observing their surroundings." The study also revealed that various women feel safer in rave and techno clubs. "Some attendees of these clubs take drugs, and while that can cause other issues (like health concerns), it creates a more relaxed atmosphere. Hence, fewer unsafe situations arise," Yrsa explains. On the opposite end, in the presence of dominant men, when men act superior, women tend to feel unsafe. Surprisingly, despite some unfortunate incidents, Rotterdam's nightlife is still perceived as safe. "The known precautions and unpleasant experiences are seen by women as an unfortunate but accepted part of the scene," Yrsa explains.


What can be done to prevent unsafe situations during nights out? Yrsa has pondered this as well. "I believe the biggest change would come from increasing openness. It's been normalised for a woman to take precautions to feel safe. But I hope people realise it's odd for women to have to adjust to their surroundings. It's not normal for women to feel unsafe. That shouldn't be the case! Clubs in Rotterdam likely know that nightlife can be unsafe for women and should take more action. We could establish behavioural guidelines that all Rotterdam nightlife venues adhere to and enforce. But most importantly, we need to discuss this: openness is the key to change," Yrsa emphasises.

Current Issues

Yrsa's passion is evident when discussing the research. "I find it great that we could practically engage with the topic of equality in this study." She appreciates that MISOC offers the freedom to explore what aligns with contemporary issues. "Due to the war in Ukraine, there's an energy crisis. Our course tasked us to suggest three practical solutions for a Dutch municipality to mitigate the energy problem. We recently held a debate about the Formula 1 in Zandvoort, representing various stakeholders. It was a timely exercise to understand the different interests surrounding such an event."

Making a Difference

After her bachelor's, Yrsa considers enrolling in a Management Master's at Erasmus University Rotterdam. "I'm intrigued by strategising solutions to issues - be it migration or energy. How do you ensure your approach resonates with those affected?" While uncertain about her post-study plans, Yrsa aspires to work for an organisation where she can make a difference, preferably in equality and sustainability. "But we'll see. I'm curious where I'll be in 5 or 10 years!" she laughs. Yrsa's ‘laid-back’ attitude is some advice she'd give to new students. "Even if you're unsure about your future, pick something you find interesting; it's motivating. And, last tip: don't just bury yourself in textbooks. Use your student years to make friends. Participate in Eurekaweek and join the study association Cedo Nulli. They organise fun outings, and you can study in groups. And then, enjoy Rotterdam together!"

More information

This interview is part of Spark. With these interviews, we aim to draw attention to the positive impact of the faculty's education and research on society. The stories in Spark give an insight into what makes ESSB students, alumni, staff and researchers tick.

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Bachelor in Management of International Social Challenges: Are you interested in solving social problems that transcend national borders? Learn more.

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