Tilburg University wants more women

Tilburg University wants more gender equality for its academic staff. Currently, about 15 percent of the professors and 26 percent of the university’s senior lecturers are women. Too few, says the university. But following the Executive Committee’s meeting last Wednesday, it turns out that raising these percentages isn’t that simple.Tilburg University wants a more open and diversely compiled organization with a workforce that reflects society.

In clear language: there aren’t enough female academics working at the university. Tilburg University’s gender policy is about to change all this: currently, the number of female university senior lecturers stands at 26 percent and the number of female professors at 15 percent. Too little, says Tilburg University. By 2017, these percentages need to have increased: 40 percent female senior lecturers and 25 percent female professors.Measures
On top of this, the university is working on its gender equality policy. Some of the measures: courses, a pilot to integrate gender topics into various leadership programs, and more information on gender and diversity on the intranet pages.

In the past, a plan for a so-called fellowship program was already drawn up. This grant was intended for excellent female researchers who were supposed to boost the position of women at the university besides performing research. But this idea wasn’t broadly supported because the faculties felt they hardly had any say in the research themes and they considered the financial burden too severe.

Executive Committee
In Wednesday morning’s Executive Committee meeting the gender policy was discussed. Fractie Onafhankelijken (The Independents Faction) indicated that Tilburg University must undergo a cultural change: “How do we get employees to recognize the benefits of gender policy? We wonder whether the theme is being taken seriously by the people who make the decisions.”

Marinus Verhagen of the Abvakabo faction: “We can try to make the management aware of the problem but that doesn’t solve it.” That’s why he’s calling for concrete measures: “The Executive Board isn’t allowed to appoint people in a situation whereby the Appointment Committee doesn’t consist of at least two women. This would indicate that you’re not taking the subject seriously.”

The Board of Governors
Rector Magnificus Philip Eijlander underlines the benefits of gender equality and has pleaded for a female rector on Universonline before. The Board of Governors intends to see whether they can still create a budget taken from the fellowship program’s reserves, which were binned at an earlier stage. Eijlander thinks this is important. “We must give this initiative a chance. With the goals for 2017, we’re not taking a huge leap. The fellowship program is expensive but it does give the number of female academics a major impulse”Faction SAM asks what the consequences will be, should the goal of having more female academics by 2017 is not achieved. “Exactly how many women are eligible for the fellowship?”

The Board of Governors has decided to return to the subject in more detail this autumn, once the new rector has been appointed.

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