Organisation - November 28, 2013

More opportunities for women

Yvonne de Hilster

Wageningen UR is taking action to get more women into senior positions. Mentors will play a key role while researcher supervisors and recruitment officers will get training through gender awareness workshops.

These measures can be found in an action plan the Executive Board is submitting to the Board of Directors on 28 November. A member of staff will be appointed specially to implement the action plan.

Rector Martin Kropff announced the action plan back in January. But the fact that the plan is only ready now does not mean they have done nothing in the past few months, says Kropff. For example, the appointment adviso­ry committees for appointing professors and tenure track staff are now required to include at least two women. The committee members will also be attending gender awareness workshops to make them aware of how diffe­rently they treat men and women.

The latest figures show that only 12 per cent of professors at Wageningen are female (based on full time equivalents and including professors holding a personal chair). The percentage of women among associate professors is 19 per cent; among assistant professors it is 30 per cent. This is despite the fact that at least as many women graduate as men.

Kropff does see slight improvements in the promotion of women in Wageningen, particularly through the tenure track, ‘our own youth training scheme’. Women make up 38 per cent of the 138 people with a tenure-track job. ‘Given the tenure track results, I have every confidence that the number of female professors will increase in time,’ says Kropff.

Jet Bussemaker (photo), the minister responsible for education, science and emancipation, is still very concerned about the fact that women are not being promoted. ‘We are not using their potential when there are so many women with great qualifications in the starting blocks,’ she said when awarding the Joke Smit Prize at the KRACHT Emancipation Congress in The Hague on Friday 22 November. Her message was that women should not accept the existing restrictive cultural patterns and that employers should change the way they treat women.

Afterwards Bussemaker said she is talking to the universities about how to improve the promotion of women. Not that she wants to introduce quotas. ‘I want universities to realize that they should not be wasting talent.’