Fewer female professors at the RUG

The number of female professors at the RUG has dropped. The national average has gone up slightly, but the men are still still in the majority in academic top posts.
By Thereza Langeler / Translation by Sarah van Steenderen

This is the conclusion drawn from the Women Professors Monitor 2017, which was published on Tuesday by the National Network of Women Professors, which has been fighting for gender equality in academics for years.

At the end of 2016, 18.6 percent of professors at the RUG were female. This is almost an entire percentage point fewer than at the end of 2015, when the percentage was at 19.4. The drop is due to personnel changes: several women retired in 2016, and the vacancies were largely filled by men.

Mineke Bosch, professor of modern history and an expert in women’s studies, says the numbers are ‘problematic’. ‘I’m afraid they show that gender policy isn’t actively being implemented. There is almost no information on the policy in the annual social report. What are the concrete results of the Rosalin Franklin programme, for instance? Does the percentage of female professors include special chairs? I’ve been unable to find any transparent data on that.’

‘Really bad’

RUG spokesperson Jorien Bakker also regrets the drop. ‘It’s more than just annoying, it shouldn’t even be happening in this day and age. It’s just really bad.’

It is the RUG’s goal to have 25 percent of their professors be female by 2020. Since 2015, the university has been actively promoting awareness concerning gender equality and biases.

They employ two diversity officers; they are both deans at the university and they critically assess the recruitment procedures for new lecturers. The RUG also informs supervisors and managers about subconscious gender biases.

Temporary blip

It appears to be working: right now, the percentage of female professors is back at the 2015 level, Bakker says. ‘We see the drop in 2016 as a temporary blip. We hope and expect to meet our goal numbers. But we have also realised that we still have a lot of work to do. 2020 is only two years away.’

Bosch that the RUG needs gender awareness. ‘And actual, substantive knowledge on gender processes. We need to take this problem seriously.’ And, she says, the next president of the board and the rector should be women. ‘All the universities that are doing well in this area have women on their board of directors.’

Nationally, the percentage of women in top posts has increased slightly. At the end of 2015, 18.1 percent of all professorial positions were filled by women. A year later, it had increased to 19.3 percent.

There are large differences across academic institutions. At the Open University, the amount of women in top post is over thirty percent. On the other end is the Erasmus University, where only 10.9 percent of professors are female.

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