News - October 5, 2006

Kropff: ‘No bonus for women professors’

Women accounted for almost 12 per cent of the professors at Wageningen University in 2005. Only the universities of Leiden, Nijmegen, Amsterdam and Utrecht had more female professors. Rector Martin Kropff is in favour of encouraging the appointment of more female professors, but not by giving a bonus to departments that do this.

The figures appear in the Monitor of Female Professors, published last week by the Stichting De Beauvoir and the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU). The Minister of Education, Maria van der Hoeven, wants fifteen per cent of professors to be women by 2010. The average at present is ten per cent, and this figure is stagnating. The percentage of female professors in other European countries is higher.

When asked, the Rector of Wageningen University, Professor Martin Kropff, said that he is aiming higher than the national goal of fifteen per cent. ‘About half of our graduate students and PhD researchers are women, but at higher levels the percentage of women decreases. The Executive Board is in favour of removing obstacles that make it difficult for women to become professors. But quality is our top priority. We also think it’s important to have international members of staff as we are an international university. But we do not intend to give precedence to people just because they come from abroad or are female.’

According to Kropff, childcare is well organised at the University, and where possible women are included in the advisory committees for the appointment of professors. The Rector said that he welcomes ideas from others about what the Executive Board can do to further encourage women to become professors. ‘I’m happy to receive suggestions.’

Other universities, such as Maastricht and Rotterdam, offer an extra subsidy of one hundred thousand euros to faculties that appoint a female professor, but Kropff is not in favour of this. ‘I am happy to spend money on encouraging women to become professors, but I suspect that a bonus for appointing a woman would lead to the wrong choices. Quality must be the guiding principle, not money. Imagine that someone of lower quality is appointed simply to get the bonus  that would be wrong,’ said the Rector.