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Thursday, June 20, 2019

Female academics are too scarce. So their applications are going to the top of the pile | Opinion - The Guardian

At Eindhoven University we’ve tried many ways to take on more female engineers, to no avail. Time for drastic measures by Frank Baaijens, rector of Eindhoven University of Technology, the Netherlands.

‘We simply need to tap the intellectual power of all genders.’
Photo: Chris Ison/PA
Engineering has a huge impact on society. To responsibly advance science and technology, a university should be a balanced reflection of society. As a top engineering university we believe that diversity and inclusiveness is crucial for the quality of our teaching and research. More than that, we believe we can turn a fully representative academic workforce into a unique strength. This is why, from 1 July, all our job vacancies will be exclusively open to female candidates for the first six months after they are advertised.

This is certainly a radical step, as the international headlines about our move attest. But we felt it was a necessary step as the more subtle measures we tried over the past 10 years were to no avail. The targets we set for female recruitment and the missionary work of our chief diversity officers were certainly useful in making our staff and community aware of inequalities and their own biases. As a result, at least two women are now on every selection panel. And yet, the gender imbalance persists with only 16% of our full professors being female – one of the lowest percentages in the Netherlands, and indeed in Europe.

What has become clear is that during the recruitment and selection processes, all of us – males and females alike – have an unconscious bias that means we gravitate towards male candidates...

Again, this is not only a matter of fairness. In the Netherlands, as in many other European countries, there is a shortage of engineers. We simply can’t afford to exclude half the intellectual potential of our populations. Besides, engineering is a discipline that is all about brainpower, regardless of gender.
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Additional resources 

Photo: TU/e.
"As of July 2019, TU/e will launch the Irène Curie Fellowship. This program is aimed at talented women who pursue an academic career in our European top research university." 

Source: The Guardian