Science - March 9, 2006

Wanted: 390 female professors

Posters appeared on International Women’s Day, Wednesday 8 March, in university buildings throughout the country. They bear sad statistics on the male-female ratio in Dutch universities. Nowhere is there evidence of serious improvement in the gender gap.

The posters show how many women Dutch universities need to appoint if they are to comply with the norm set by the ministry of education. The ministry’s target is that fifteen percent of all professors should be women by 2010. This is less ambitious than that of the European Union, which is 25 percent according to the Lisbon agreement. A quick glance at the posters makes it clear that these targets are not going to be achieved quickly.

The highest scorer at the moment is the University of Leiden, where over fourteen percent of the professors are women. Wageningen University comes fifth with just over ten percent female professors. The national average is nine percent.

In order to reach the ministry’s target Wageningen would need to appoint an extra five female professors in the coming four years. To meet the Lisbon target Wageningen would need another fifteen. Wageningen might manage to reach the first target, if the current trend is anything to go by. In 2005 Wageningen University appointed fifteen new professors, of whom two were women.

At the Technical University in Delft it’s a different story. At present three percent of the professors are women, and they will need another 25 women if they are to meet the ministry’s target. In the whole of the Netherlands 143 female professors will need to be appointed to meet the ministry’s target, and 390 to meet the Lisbon target.

The posters were sent out by the Centre for Gender and Diversity in Maastricht, and form part of the EQUAL project, in which the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, the Erasmus University Rotterdam and the University of Maastricht collaborate. It is the fourth time that they have carried out a poster campaign. / JH, HOP

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