My intuition was soon proved right by the figures from the Female Professors Monitor (Monitor vrouwelijke hoogleraren) conducted by the National Network of Female Professors (LNVH). The figures from this survey made it crystal clear that female professors were in the minority by a huge margin: only 14.8 percent of professors were women in 2011. That percentage has since increased to 26.7 percent in 2022, but the growth is flattening off. The latest edition of the Monitor published last week found that, at the current rate, it will take until 2041 or even 2045 to reach an equal ratio.

2023-09-04 EUR Opening Academisch Jaar (Arie Kers) (27)

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Call to appoint 200 extra women as full professors

In 2036, there must be an equal number of men and women full professors working at the…

It is difficult to pinpoint why it is taking so long for women to reach the top. As I learned from PhD student Daphne van Helden, who researches the gender gap in academic careers, the difficulties women are running into are like a seven-head beast. Individual, social and institutional aspects all play a role.

These insights inspired me to take action. As a member of the board of VENA ( Erasmus MC’s network for female academics), I have fulfilled various roles over the past ten years, from just sitting on the board to the role of vice chair and most recently that of chair. There is a real need to stand up for the interests of women in Erasmus MC, and that has become my mission. VENA has organised workshops to provide women with the necessary skills, as well as networking events to meet and engage with each other, and we have also had discussions with the Executive Board on the position of women in academia and how their position can be strengthened. Achieving the goal of equal pay in particular will require a strong focus. The fact that women in the same positions as men are still paid less is an injustice that must be addressed. That is why VENA is organising activities around Equal Pay Day.

For me personally, the icing on the cake was being presented with the Athena Award together with Corine van de Sande during the Dies Natalis in 2022. The painting I received as part of this award now hangs in a prominent place in my house and is a daily reminder for me of the importance of equal opportunities for women in academia.

But there are still real concerns. A female colleague recently raised the issue at a lunch: “But what is going to happen to white men?” To which I replied a bit too vehemently: “Nothing at all is going to happen to white men!”

Hanan El Marroun column 3 – Levien Willemse_Pauline Wiersema

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Staying silent about human rights is wrong

Columnist Hanan El Marroun wonders: shouldn’t the university take up a clear position…

This question touches on a key aspect in the pursuit of equality: recognising that we strive for equal opportunities for everyone, without disadvantaging others. That is not about reducing opportunities for men, but about increasing opportunities for women, so equal opportunities for everyone. It is our shared responsibility in the academic world to create an inclusive environment where everyone can flourish, regardless of gender, ethnicity or other differences.

Having been on the board of VENA for a decade, the time has come for me to pass on the baton. I hope that the new board members will dedicate themselves to promoting gender equality in academia with just as much passion, enthusiasm and commitment.

Hanan El Marroun is professor of Biological Psychology.