Although the number of female professors is increasing steadily, the glass ceiling certainly hasn’t disappeared, concluded the latest Female Professor Monitor. Calculations show that the step from assistant professor to associate professor is particularly high. The National Network of Female Professors (LNVH) wrote that: “Although a great deal has been achieved, there’s still a lot of work to be done.” On many fronts, an equal distribution of men and women is still far from reality.

Remarkable growth in Rotterdam

At the end of September the percentage of female professors was above 25 per cent for the first time: a milestone that was confirmed by the new LNVH monitor.

According to the monitor, for the second consecutive year Erasmus University has shown remarkable growth in the number of female professors. The growth (3.5 per cent) is highest here and the number of FTE also increased the most (7.8). 24.3 per cent of the 225 professors was female in 2020.

Glass ceiling index

The monitor looks further than only the number of professors. It also investigates whether all women are offered the same career opportunities as men. The monitor uses the so-called ‘Glass ceiling index’ for this: the ratio between the percentage of women in two adjacent job categories.

The step from PhD student to assistant professor, usually via post-doc positions, is almost the same for men and women. There doesn’t seem to be a glass ceiling there. That comes in the positions above this, where the step from assistant professor to professor is much higher for women than for men. But the index also shows that advancement to professorship is generally in men’s favour.


What is noteworthy is that, on average, female professor contract sizes are slightly bigger than their male colleagues: 0.87 compared with 0.84 FTE, which is more than an hour more. This is reversed in the positions below this.

However, women are more likely to have a temporary contract, particularly as assistant professor: 31.6 per cent of women compared with 26.8 per cent of men has an end date in their assistant professor contract.