The rule that women have to keep their cap on and men can take them off during PhD ceremonies will most likely be included in the PhD regulations for the next four years.
The university council is allowed to send its suggestions to rector Cisca Wijmenga, who also chairs the PhD Board, which wrote the regulations. But the text won’t be revised for another four years. Any and all suggestions will only be included then.
Last week saw a commotion concerning the rule when the university council discussed the updated regulations during a committee meeting. In the new version, men were allowed to take off their cap, while women weren’t.
Janet Fuller with the personnel faction said the rule was ‘an unwanted and outdated gender stereotype’. In an opinion piece in UKrant, retired professor Mineke Bosch called it ‘a classic example of sexism’ and ‘completely unnecessary’.
UKrant learned that the rule was the result of a mistake by the PhD Board. The board, which consists of the entirety of the faculties’ deans as well as the rector, meant to write that women had the option to keep their caps on. But the phrasing didn’t reflect that.
The council would like the text to be changed, but lacks the authority to do so itself. The council only gets a copy of the regulations for their information. Fuller asked the rector how the council might be able to change the text after all.
‘Because the rector chairs the PhD Board, we agreed that I would send our suggestions to her’, says Fuller. Even though the changes won’t be made immediately, she’s still glad the topic was broached.
‘The cap issue is important because of the principle of the matter, since we’re striving to have a gender-inclusive university’, she says. ‘But as an earlier article said, it’s not the most important issue we singled out. I’m just glad it helped point out the fact that we need to do more than just change personal pronouns to create not just inclusive language, but an inclusive reality, as well.’