Gender diversity

NWO tries to offer all talent in science opportunities, based on the conviction that this is important for strong science. Despite various measures, too much talent remains unutilised at present. For example, female researchers are insufficiently promoted to higher positions. NWO is therefore committed to a better gender balance within science as well as its own organisation.

There are too few women at the top of Dutch science: in 2013 barely 16 percent of professors were female. This puts the Netherlands at the bottom of the list in Europe. For associate and assistant professors the average proportion of women is also too low. Such a gender imbalance is not good for science. Over the coming years, NWO will intensify the collaboration with its partners to realise a more equal distribution between men and women in science.

Gender policy

NWO uses various instruments to encourage the influx and promotion of female talent in Dutch science:

Funding instruments specifically aimed at women: Aspasia, Athena, Westerdijk Talent Scheme and NWO Physics/f grants.

Within NWO, agreements have been made for the procedures of awarding funding in order for women – and men who want to combine work and care – not be put at a disadvantage due to inflexible requirements or unintentional stereotypes. These agreements have been reported in the internal manual NWO zoekt vrouw ('NWO seeks women').

Where applicable, NWO will challenge scientists to consider the role of gender in their own research or research proposal.

NWO contributes to several networks for female scientitsts, such as Academianet and the Dutch Network of Women Professors (LNVH). The LNVH manages a database of more than 850 female professors and associate professors. The LNVH also publishes the Monitor Female Professors once every two years.

In collaboration with the LNVH, NWO organizes Pump your Career, a triennial event at which talent and career development for women in science take centre stage.

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Gender balance on committees and boards

Since 2010, NWO is working towards a 40 percent share of women on every board and committee by the end of 2015. In addition, at least two women must have a chair position in all those boards and  committees. This policy has resulted in a better balance, but the target percentages remains a challenge. At the end of 2014, the boards and committees of NWO had a joint poportion of 31 percent women. At the start of measurements in 2011, this was  20 percent.

Gender balance in research funding

NWO constantly monitors the proportion of women and men for grant proposals and awards and reports on these figures in its annual report. In 2014, about one third of the almost 5,000 grant proposals came from women. A total of 1209 proposals were awarded funding. Almost three quarters of these were submitted by a man (880 proposals) and a quarter by a woman (329 proposals). This means that 20 percent of all proposals submitted by women were awarded funding. For the male applicants this figure was 26 percent.

Gender balance within NWO

NWO also wishes to improve the gender balance within its own organisation both among employees and at the top of the organisation. Therefore, in 2010 target figures were established for the proportion of women in higher positions at NWO for 2015. Measurements made in December 2014 revealed that NWO is making good progress as an employer, but also that a final sprint is needed to achieve the target figures by the end of 2015.

Target figures

The following target figures and realisation apply to NWO as an employer (made up of the NWO units in The Hague and STW, and the institutes ASTRON, NSCR and SRON). •

  • Top (salary scale 15 and higher): 28% - December 2014: 19% - January 2011: 16%
  • Subtop (salary scale 13/14): 36%  - December 2014: 26% - January 2011: 23%
  • Middle management (salary scale 11/12): 40% - December 2014: 40% - January 2011: 33%

NWO-divisions FOM, CWI and NIOZ also set target figures in 2010 for improving the gender balance in their own organisations. At the science institutes in particular, the proportion of women at higher levels is modest. Nevertheless the proportion of women is increasing especially among PhD researchers, postdocs and employees in non-scientific positions at salary scale 11/12.

Click on the image for a larger version. Credit: NWOClick on the image for a larger version. Credit: NWO

Evaluation and follow-up gender policy

In 2015, NWO evaluated the effects of its own gender policy. This was done on the basis of research into differences in awarding rates between men and women in NWO competitions and on the basis of an evaluation of Aspasia.

The mentioned research, a scientific analysis of three Veni grant funding rounds, revealed that female applicants received a lower prioritisation from reviewers. To ensure that all scientific talent has equal opportunities, and following the results of this study, NWO will devote more explicit consideration to gender awareness of reviewers in its processes and procedures. NWO will also examine which changes to the assessment and selection procedures can contribute most strongly to more equal chances for men and women to obtain research funding.

Together with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the universities and the Royal Netherlands Academy for Arts and Sciences (KNAW), NWO will also examine how it can support the career progression of female scientists in the coming years.

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