Research funding body NWO has launched a new programme called Advancing Equity in Academia through Innovation. Covering a total budget of 1.3 million euros, it will be used to finance research into equity and inclusion in the academic world.
“Different perspectives and backgrounds generate new ideas and creative thinking, and they also lead to a deeper, better understanding of issues and problems,” NWO’s press release reads.
Four research projects have been awarded funding. According to the press release, they will ‘develop, implement and study interventions in academia’, with the aim of promoting diversity and inclusion. Focal points include differences in perspective, sharing knowledge and breaking implicit norms.
Notably, one project will study the exclusion of ‘racialised academic staff’ in the Netherlands, i.e. teachers and researchers of colour. According to the project description, mandatory quotas for this group are ‘indispensable, as has been scientifically demonstrated in other contexts’.
The project intends to work on the ‘large-scale implementation of these quotas’, for example by setting up a network for racialised staff, as well as gain an insight into the resistance to such quotas in the Netherlands.
In an interview on the NWO website, administrator Margot Weijnen has revealed why she thinks this new programme is so important. The issue affects her personally, she says. “When I started studying at TU Delft, I quickly discovered what it’s like to stand out in the crowd. Suddenly, I was part of a minority group: less than five per cent of the students were women.”
As a result, she also faced prejudice. “In those days, there were always people subtly suggesting that it wasn’t your scientific merit that got you a particular position, but it was because you were female. There were also a lot of insinuations about the quality of women’s work.”