In the spring of 2016, SoFoKleS started the project ‘Advancement of women in science’. The aim is to improve the opportunities of women, by informing those in a position of leadership what they can do. This first edition of SoFoKleS Magazine is entirely dedicated to the advancement of women in science. It offers clear insights and a framework for action from a variety of perspectives.
It is an honour to be able to introduce a magazine with this theme, because fair gender representation at the top is an issue that is close to my heart. Knowledge institutions do not just serve as an example; too much talent for great research and teaching is simply lost due to unequal opportunities.
It is important that the knowledge sector is proactively realising its targets, sooner rather then later.
And it is essential for management to be exemplary and lead the way in the intended change of culture. Because, although we sometimes forget this fact, we have a major influence on the careers of our employees. That is why we need to recognise the importance of our role, introduce a variety of measures, and monitor what works and what does not. And then: do what needs to be done! Our sector stands to benefit from this in a number of ways. More equal opportunities for women can significantly improve the level of general diversity among knowledge institutions.
It is essential for management to lead the way.
Unfortunately. unconscious prejudices are very persistent. They are ingrained in our system and in our culture. This is not something that can be changed overnight. My youngest daughter told me recently about her salary negotiations with a new employer. I thought she had pitched rather high. As always, she set me straight immediately. ‘For a man that would be a perfectly normal amount!’ That remark was an eye-opener. Further on in this magazine you will read that virtually everyone (men and women alike) is unconsciously biased. It is good to be aware of it without being judgemental about it, so we can anticipate this in our attitude, behaviour and actions.
But there is no single measure that we can take as a miracle cure for the equal advancement of women in science.
It requires a package of measures, targeting culture ánd policy, and consciously supporting women at a variety of levels. This is what we can learn from the actions that various universities have already set out. Some positive steps have been taken, but that is not enough. There is still a lot more room for equality at the top. So let us explore this together!
Jan de Jeu,
Vice President, Board of Governors, University of Groningen
We have already taken some steps, but it is not enough