Full professors receive higher wages than assistant professors, and assistant professors receive higher wages than PhD students. Women are more likely than men to leave academia, and this gap can be expressed in money. But how much money exactly?

The creators of the latest Women Professors Monitor arrived at a sum of more than €200 million. They drew the conclusion that it would be a long, long time before women would be as well represented in all academic positions as men, and before they would receive equal pay.


For now, says the monitor, it may be more relevant to look at the number of women who leave academia at every step towards a more prestigious position. This would still involve a €68 million loss.

At the most recent count, dating from December 2016, only 19.3 percent of full professors in the Netherlands were women, up 1.2 percent from the year before. At this rate, the number of female professors will not equal the number of male professors until 2051. By comparison, women make up more than half of all university graduates.

Universities have sworn that they are doing their best to appoint more women professors, but the former Minister for Education, Jet Bussemaker, felt they were not making enough progress quickly enough, and decided to support women. In early 2017, she earmarked €5 million for the appointment of one hundred new female professors.


It almost seemed a clever form of blackmail. You see, the universities will only receive this money if they realise their good intentions and meet their targets by 2020. Some universities have their work cut out for them. Moreover, the women professors appointed as part of Bussemaker’s scheme will not count towards the universities’ targets.

We will see next year whether the ploy worked. At any rate, the universities have submitted more than one hundred applications to the Ministry, Pieter Duisenberg, the President of the Association of Universities in the Netherlands, proudly announced today.

Women professors expressed as a percentage

Universiteit Begin 2017 Streefcijfer 2020 Plus extra 100
Leiden 25 27 30
Utrecht 21 25 28
Groningen 19 25 27
Erasmus 11 20 24
Maastricht 19 22 26
UvA 23 25 28
VU 20 25 27
Radboud 26 25 27
Tilburg 17 25 27
Delft 13 15 17
Eindhoven 12 20 21
Twente 13 20 22
Wageningen 16 25 28
Open Uni 29 35 39
Totaal 19 22 26

© HOP. Source: VSNU, NWO. Calculated on the basis of FTE.

Athena’s Angels

The Athena’s Angels action group suggested in 2015 that universities not wait until male professors retire, then replace them with women professors, but rather simply appoint more professors. “There is not much difference between an associate professor and a full professor, so you might as well appoint a few more women,” said Prof. Eveline Crone. “I can’t see for the life of me why we wouldn’t go about it this way, but there are people who would rather minimise the number of full professors.”