Three ifs and buts to the 100 extra female professors

11-01-2017, 17:22

Foto: Joeri Borst

Minister Bussemaker spends five million euros to appoint one hundred female professors this year, she promised today. This comes down to six or seven new professors in Nijmegen, but there are some provisos to that. Vox collected three of them.

#1 It is a temporary impuls
‘A nice back support in the aim to attract more female professors’, says Monique Leyenaar, chairman of the Women Professors Network in Nijmegen. ‘But what does this mean for the long term?’ Leyenaar points out that the funding is a one-time occasion: after five years, the continuation of the professorship is in the hands of the faculties. The question is if all of them are prepared to do this. ‘When the funding stops, the chairs kan be canceled again. That is why our aim is to recruit more women on the existing chairs.’ For this last thing, the minister has also provided money, the five million euros are extra.

#2 Not every woman wants to be a ‘Westerdijk professor’

The new chairs are named after Johanna Westerdijk, who was the first woman to become professor in The Netherlands, exactly one hundred years ago. The minister creates a budget to promote one hundred associate professors to professors, for a five-year-period. The five million is to cover the difference in salary, around 10.000 euros per chair per year. That sounds nice, but such a positive gesture is not applauded by every female scientist. You are specifically a ‘Westerdijk professor’, who allegedly only managed to come this far because of gender.

#3 There will be an opening in the research group
Ten thousand euros is enough to adjust the salary for five years, but mind you: the associate professor who becomes professor because of this money, leaves an opening in the research group she is currently working in. It is up to the faculty whether this space is filled. If that does not happen, the gain in professors is just as high as the loss of associate professors. If the space is filled with new associate professors, it turns out that sometimes gifts cost money.

The hundred extra professors are a part of the ‘talent letter‘ (Dutch), sent to the House of Representatives by the minister today.

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