Erasmus University is hopelessly behind when it comes to gender equality. There are far fewer female than male professors and there is only one female dean, while EUR wants to have one in four professors to be female in 2025. But there is hope: Chief Diversity Officer Hanneke Takkenberg and program manager Diversity Daisy Boogaard have presented an ambitious plan to close the gap, which has already been adopted by the Executive Board. Here are five key points in the plan.
1) Diversity is not only a moral duty
Of course, pretty much everyone agrees that women should have the same opportunities as men in at the university. But the pursuit of equality is not only a moral imperative, it also actually improves the university. For example, research by McKinsey shows that ‘equal’ teams perform better, innovate more, respond better to changing environments and yield better financial results.
2) Without intervention, it won’t get better
Yes, we at EM have written about this before, but it is still shocking to see how small the percentage of women is in the corps of professors. This is particularly true in the two largest faculties. RSM has (measured at December 31, 2015) one regular female professor and zero endowed. And it’s hardly possible, but ESE does even worse: zero full professors are women, and one endowed (also by December 31, 2015). iBMG and ESHCC are the only two faculties to (just) exceed the 25 percent target rate: 28 and 26 percent respectively.
This means that EUR finishes 12th on a rank of all Dutch universities. Even universities with mosly male student populations do better. And if you think it will be okay in the future, because we are already on the right track: think again. The proportion of female full professors (9 to 10 percent) is still exactly the same as it was six years ago.
3) Big difference in income
The National Network of Female Professors (LNVH) investigated the average monthly salary of male and female scientists. Surprise, surprise: women earn less, on average about 390 euros per month at the same age. The difference increases as the position is higher. Also, women are less likely to receive grants. While the EUR has contributed to the research of the LNVH, it still lacks details. Takkenberg and Boogaard and therefore propose to first do the research again on a university and faculty scale.
4) There is no single cause
The EUR is not a place full of woman haters. The causes for the low number of women in senior positions are complex. The gender plan identifies three types of factors: individual, institutional and cultural. Individual causes are about personal characteristics, motivation and ambition, part-time work and stereotyping. There are institutional barriers on the path of a scientific career and through the recruitment and selection procedures. In organizational culture, finally, mores and values play a role.
5) Hardcore interventions
The new plan will address all the three kinds of causes. The responsibility to intervene lies mostly with the (still!) largely male group of deans. There will be strong measures. At least 30 percent of the faculty boards or management teams will soon have to be female, a rule which also will apply to the deans themselves. This will mean that at least two male deans – over time – must make way for a woman. In addition, when selecting new recruits, recruiters should look not only at research output, but also to teaching careers, knowledge transfer and binding ability. If EUR is able to recruit women for 50 percent of the expected vacancies in the next ten years, EUR will be at 25 percent female professors in 2025.