It’s the thing that has bothered her the most over the last six years: the fact that the number of female professors working at the university is so low. ‘I really believed I’d change all that when I was appointed to the Board, but I’ve really had to admit that it’s a hard nut to crack,’ said Pauline van der Meer Mohr in her farewell interview with Erasmus Magazine, which is featured in the magazine’s Christmas issue, to be published on 15 December.

Failed workforce diversity policy

After serving as the Chairman of the Executive Board of Erasmus University for nearly six years, Van der Meer Mohr left the university on 1 December. When she was first appointed Chairman of the Board, implementing a stronger workforce diversity policy was at the top of Van der Meer Mohr’s to-do list, but now that she’s left, she’s found that her mission to have more female professors appointed at EUR has failed.

From 11 percent to 15 percent

While Van der Meer Mohr was in charge of the university, the percentage of women professors rose to nearly 15 percent, up from 11 percent. ‘So it’s not an easy job to take on,’ the Chairman admitted on the occasion of her departure.

‘Glaciers will melt faster than we’ll make progress on diversity policy’

Pauline van der Meer Mohr

‘We’ve analysed the talented female academics. We know where we’re losing them, why we’re losing them, and why they don’t get appointed to higher ranks. We’ve come up with instruments designed to help them get promoted. When women have to leave for a while due to pregnancy, we can now ask a substitute to take on their teaching duties once they come back, so as to give them a chance to catch up on their research. But glaciers will melt faster than we’ll make progress when it comes to accomplishing workforce diversity.’

It’s no use vetoing appointments

She considered vetoing appointments of male professors so as to force deans to take a look at female candidates, but never actually went through with it. ‘By the time I’m presented with an appointment, it’s generally a done deal. It’s no use vetoing it. Appointments must be carried by the Doctorate Board [which is made up of the deans of all faculties, ed.], and they’re the problem. It’s their job to propose more female candidates.’

Find the rest of interview in EM’s Christmas issue, in which former Chairman of the Board Pauline van der Meer Mohr also shares with us what she did achieve, what she’s proud of and what wishes she has for the university. Erasmus Magazine’s Christmas issue will be published on 15 December.