Percentage of female professors up sharply

Dutch universities are employing more and more women as full professors. Women now occupy 23 percent of professorships, according to the latest figures.


There are, however, considerable differences between universities.Dutch academia has never been a bastion for female talent at professorship level, but that situation is gradually changing. The Open University leads the way: 35 percent of its professors are female.

Erasmus University Rotterdam brings up the rear: only 15 percent of professors there are women. The percentages are not much higher at the Netherlands’ four universities of technology. 

The annual report of the TU Delft Human Resources department showed that the number of female professors increased in almost all the faculties in 2018. Head and shoulders above the rest is the Faculty of Architecture where the percentage rose from 26 in 2017 to 34 in 2018.

One of the ways in which TU Delft recruits top females scientists is through the Delft Technology Fellowship programme. This programme awards grants to women to work out their research programmes. The fellowships are at the level of assistant professor, associate professor and professor. The TU Delft Annual Report 2018 showed that 13 women found a place at TU Delft through this programme in 2018.

At the beginning of 2017, the previous Minister of Education, Minister Bussemaker, announced that EUR 5 million would be made available to appoint 100 more female professors at Dutch universities. TU Delft was requested to appoint six women to professorships between 10 February 2017 and 10 February 2018. This year was called the ‘Westerdijk year’ after the first female professor in the Netherlands, Johanna Westerdijk. In the end, nine professors were appointed, seven of whom with the ministerial subsidy.

All universities report a rise in the proportion of female professors, except Wageningen University, which has been unable to break through the 17 percent mark.

© HOP. Source: VSNU, WOPI 2018. Percentages in FTEs (full-time positions). Reference date 31 Dec 2018.

University professors have always been the subject of considerable scrutiny. Diversity targets have been agreed. Some progress has been booked in academic appointments below the lofty rank of professor, though less pronounced.

Forty-four percent of PhD students are women, a figure that has remained stubbornly stuck for years. More women hold a position as assistant professor than in the past, but the increase is not as strong as among full professors. The proportion of female associate professors has even decreased.

© HOP. Source: VSNU, WOPI 2018. Percentages in full-time positions. Reference date 31 Dec 2018.

HOP, Bas Belleman /Taalcentrum-VU, translation, Delta, Connie van Uffelen

HOP Hoger Onderwijs Persbureau

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