NWO works on gender equality

5 July 2018

Today, science celebrates its first international day of 'LGBT+ people in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics'. LGBT stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. Studies show that people in this group often struggle to openly be themselves out in the open which affects the academic climate. NWO pursues a diversity policy with emphasis on gender equality. A concrete example was the signing of Gender Equality Plans by four NWO institutes during Physics@Veldhoven on 22 January 2018. The plans describe clear actions and milestones and first results are visible.

The four NWO institutes AMOLF, ARCNL, DIFFER and Nikhef each have set up a special Gender Equality Team with staff members from different working levels. The teams come together, organize actions and evaluate the implementation process. All institutes converted their vacancy texts into gender-neutral texts. In doing so, they also make use of existing guidelines, including ‘Tips for Writing Gender Sensitive Advertisement Texts’ from Radboud University. In addition, the institutes organize workshops and talks to create awareness of unintentional biases, guided by expert Esther Mollema, director of Directions.

It stimulates cooperation and leads to more scientific creativity
- Marco de Baar, NWO institute DIFFER

DIFFER for instance also ran its website on gender-sensitive formulations and images and also published new information about the working conditions at the institute. Marco de Baar, member of the management team and the Gender Equality Team of DIFFER: “In the past, DIFFER’s workforce was very uniform. Today, diversity is increasing and that is good. It stimulates cooperation and leads to more scientific creativity, because issues are being approached from different angles. In order to further increase diversity, we are also working more closely with Eindhoven University of Technology." Both human resource departments share best practices like on recruitment strategies to attract female applicants and explore cooperation in the field of information and training.

Science for everyone

Trafic light during Gender Summit 2015 in London

The design and implementation of customized Gender Equality Plans take place with the support of the GENERA gender project and are coordinated by the GENERA project manager Sandra Hesping (s.hesping@nwo.nl). The aim of the project is to develop a common framework to promote gender equality in European research organizations operating in the field of physics. GENERA was granted within the Horizon 2020 work program Science with and for Society. NWO’s efforts towards a better gender balance in science received international attention. The results of the Gender Equality Plans were recently presented at the fifteenth Gender Summit in London.

More information

Source: NWO