Diversity and inclusion

NWO wants to be an organisation where everyone feels welcome, can be themselves and can bring out the best in themselves and in teams. We therefore strive for a diverse organisation with an inclusive culture where everybody is needed, irrespective of cultural, ethnic or religious background, gender, sexual orientation, health and age. We can only achieve that if we shift the goal posts and change patterns, structures and processes. We will do this by focusing our attention on our granting policy and employer's policy.


Granting policy

What do we do for researchers who apply for funding?

Aspasia programme

The aim of the Aspasia programme is to accelerate the promotion of female researchers to associate or full professorships. Aspasia is linked to the Talent Scheme: female researchers who have received a Vidi or Vici grant, or who were assessed as very good or excellent after the interview phase but did not receive a Vidi or Vici due to insufficient available funding. They are eligible for the Aspasia grant if they are promoted to the position of associate professor (Vidi) or full professor (Vici) within a year. NWO puts forward Aspasia candidates to the executive board of the institution where they work. After the promotion has been realised, the institution receives a premium of 50,000 euros for Talent Scheme laureates and 150,000 euros for Talent Scheme candidates.

Boards and committees

As a follow-up to the Charter Talent to the Top and a growing awareness that a diverse committee or board creates more impact, NWO has strengthened its focus on increasing the proportion of women in its committees and boards. A precondition is that differences between disciplines and solutions for women being unduly burdened by selection committees, for example, are carefully considered. It will be investigated how the pool of potential candidates can be expanded and how proper evaluation and monitoring can take place internally. In 2019, additional policy for the participation of board and committee members with a diverse cultural, ethnic and religious background will be further considered.

Gender balance in the natural sciences and engineering

Many disciplines in the natural sciences and engineering have a (very) low influx of female students compared to other academic disciplines in the Netherlands (Monitor Female Professors 2018). The aim of the incentive fund B├Ęta en Techniek [Science and Technology] is to attract and retain more female researchers for these academic disciplines in the Netherlands. The fund builds further upon the NWO Physics/f grants programme and will start in 2019 for researchers in the natural and applied, and engineering sciences. It includes the following components:

  • Bridging grants for female researchers who after completing a project or appointment cannot immediately move on to a new appointment.
  • Extra Veni positions for female researchers
  • The biannual conference Insight Out
  • Annual awarding of diversity prizes
  • Support for the two-body problem

Researchers with a migration background

NWO wants to create more equal opportunities and equality in outcomes in the granting process for people with a migration background in both the short and the long term. The aim of this is to facilitate more influx and promotion of researchers with a non-western background. We will therefore evaluate Mosaic, the previous funding programme for PhD grants that was realised from 2007 to 2012 and for which the last projects were completed at the end of 2018. During this evaluation we will also examine whether a system change is needed to realise this. We will not do this alone, but together with all stakeholders (e.g. with people from the target groups, ECHO, and universities).

We define the target group of people with a migration background as internationals (knowledge migrants), people with refugee status, and Dutch citizens with a non-western background. It is assumed that there is an underrepresentation of people with a migration/non-western background in science in general and in certain scientific disciplines in particular.

Women in Science Excel (WISE)

The programme WISE gives talented female researchers the opportunity to develop themselves or expand their research group at one of the NWO institutes.

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Compensation regulations

NWO has established various compensation regulations to ensure that applicants, who due to various external causes (such as pregnancy, parental leave, care leave, illness or certain force majeure situations) experience difficulty in submitting an application or completing the selection procedure, nevertheless have an equal chance of obtaining a grant from NWO. 


NWO works on increasing the awareness of those involved in the granting process

NWO strives to achieve a level playing field for all applicants, in which quality is selected and the influence of implicit associations on the selection process is prevented as much as possible. NWO can guarantee that male and female candidates have equal opportunities in the funding rounds. As female researchers have often acquired international experience in a different way than male colleagues, we ask committee members assessing international experience to look further than just international mobility, for example by assessing international collaborations at their true value. In addition, we will change our application form so that information that could trigger prejudices is no longer asked.


Employer's policy

How can we ensure that NWO is an inclusive workplace?

At NWO we aim to achieve an inclusive workplace for everybody by paying attention to a safe culture and mutual understanding. For employees, networks and events for specific target groups are valuable instruments for recognition and mutual strengthening. These are used to share information about bottlenecks and to devise alternative work methods. NWO wants to be an organisation where everyone can be themselves and thus bring out the best in themselves.

Removing barriers

We want to acquire insight into the prevailing barriers and possibilities for Dutch people with a migration background and also the LGBTI group. We do this, for example, by carrying out a needs and bottleneck survey with the help of Charter Diversity, ECHO and Workplace Pride.

In addition, we want to facilitate the influx of people with an occupational disability by setting up an internal network organisation and to work towards providing information about possibilities for people with an occupational disability. Since 1 January 2019, NWO has been a member of Workplace Pride. Network meetings are organised for the LGBTI group under the name: Pride network meetings.

Selection and assessment methodology

NWO strives towards an inclusive selection and assessment methodology by designing this in such a way that gender diversity becomes embedded in it. NWO also strives towards an inclusive policy with regard to its communications by training employees in the use of inclusive and neutral words and images. Employees are given awareness training about gender diversity, which will in future be expanded to include other aspects of diversity such as cultural, ethnic and religious diversity and sexual orientation.