The Netherlands gains 100 female professors

8 March 2018

On 8 March, International Women's Day, minister of Education, Culture and Science Ingrid van Engelshoven will announce that universities have succeeded in appointing 100 new female professors. The year 2017 marked a century since the first Dutch woman, Johanna Westerdijk, became a professor. To commemorate this 'Westerdijk year', the ministry made additional resources (5 million euros) available to appoint 100 female professors. Universities interested in making use of this Westerdijk Talent Scheme submitted their applications to NWO.

The aim of the Westerdijk Talent Scheme is to increase the number of female professors, thereby contributing to a greater diversity among top-ranking academics. Minister van Engelshoven is pleased to see that the universities have embraced the initiative so energetically. 'This shows that if the will is there and you really put your mind to it, you can appoint more women and break open the old boy network. This Westerdijk Talent Scheme has given universities a much-needed boost. We still have a long way to go before we can speak about a fair distribution, but the universities’ commitment last year inspires confidence.'

Only a small percentage – about 19% – of professors in the Netherlands is female. Universities are taking a step in the right direction with these 100 new professors, however. These professors are additional to the target figures that the universities have set for 2020.

'Dutch universities are showing that they mean business when it comes to women in senior ranks,' says VSNU chairman Pieter Duisenberg. 'There is still a lot to do, but these 100 new female professors are 100 steps in the right direction. Diversity and different points of view strengthen academia. I am certain that the 100 new professors will make a tremendous contribution to our universities.'

One of the conditions for approving applications for financial support from NWO was that the professor in question will be considered for a permanent position. The idea for the Westerdijk Talent Scheme comes from Athena's Angels, four female professors who defend the interests of women academics.

Overview of allocation key, number of sumitted applications and grants per university

Source: NWO