Photographer:Fotograaf: Monitor vrouwelijke hoogleraren 2017
MAASTRICHT. A year ago, 19.3 per cent of all professors in the Netherlands was female. A rise of 1.2 per cent compared to 2015, according to the Female Professors Monitor that was presented last Tuesday. Conclusion: if developments continue at this pace, a balanced division between male and female professors will not be reached until 2051.
Maastricht University, with 21 per cent female professors in 2016, reached sixth place on the ranking of fourteen Dutch universities. The Monitor, which is published every year by the National Network of Female Professors, (Landelijk Netwerk Vrouwelijke Hoogleraren, LNHV), bases itself on figures from university association VSNU. In the UM’s Social Annual Report 2016, however, the figure is 19 per cent.
The Open University has the most female professors in the Netherlands: almost 30 per cent. Dangling at the bottom, just like in 2015, is Erasmus University Rotterdam (11 per cent).
On the climb up to the highest academic position, the process seems to go wrong mainly at the last step – from university senior lecturer to professor – says LNHV. There seems to be an “obstruction” for women, the report stated, contrary to the “easy flow” for men.
In 2015, every university established a quota for the number of female professors to be reached by 2020. According to the report, six of the fourteen universities will actually achieve this. The UM is one of these six, with a target of 22 per cent.
Since her appointment as rector at the UM, Rianne Letschert has spoken out for more diversity and at any rate more women in the higher ranks. In connection with this, the Executive Board has made agreements with various faculties. At the top is the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. The faculty’s Social Annual Report shows that 46 per cent of all professors at FASOS was female, last year. No less than six per cent above the target of 40 per cent. Law has also developed positively, with 28 per cent female professors (target: 22 per cent). Psychology and Economics wanted to achieve more, but became stuck at 27 and 10 per cent, respectively.
“We have implemented an important policy over the past ten years, giving female university (senior) lecturers the chance to become professors. That is for a large part due to my predecessor, Rein de Wilde,” says Sophie Vanhoonacker, dean of Arts and Social Sciences. “In 2006, we had zero female professors. Ten years on, almost half of them are.” In 2006, the Maastricht Executive Board urged faculties to uphold a more active policy. A bonus arrangement was set up. For a period of five years, female senior lecturers were allowed to prove themselves in a “profiling position”. If everything went well, a regular appointment to a chair followed. “You see that if Executive Boards take their responsibility – and our present administrators do so too – that something can actually change. With a better balance between men and women, both in academic and in other positions, you take better decisions, studies have taught us.” Vanhoonacker does admit, however, that some disciplines are ‘easier’ than others. Economics has fewer female professors because the pond is smaller, she says. The same applies to technology. The Dutch Universities of Technology dangle in the lower regions of the ranking.
Vanhoonacker ends by pointing out that it’s not just about ‘now’, but also about the future. “We must ensure that we have sufficient female PhD graduates and university lecturers.” The national overview does not look promising. The percentage of women among PhD students at Dutch universities was on average 43 per cent in 2016. But that is less than before, while the total number of PhD students has grown explosively. Maastricht may consider itself an exception, because about 60 per cent of the PhD students were female last year.
Former minister Bussemaker of Education reserved five million euro for the appointment of a hundred female professors at the beginning of this year. This so-called Westerdijk Talent Impulse Programme was named after Johanna Westerdijk, who became the first female professor in the Netherlands one hundred years ago. The UM may appoint ten Westerdijk professors (regular appointments, for internal and external candidates). Meanwhile, eight chairs have been filled and the ninth is in the works, said rector Rianne Letschert in a University Council commission meeting last week.