Women Professors Monitor 2020: RISE in percentage of female professors at 12 universities, but not in Leiden

On December 9, the LNVH has presented the Women Professors Monitor 2020.



Just under a quarter of the professors are women

The percentage of female professors working at Dutch universities is 24.2%, according to the Monitor Female Professors 2020 presented by the National Network of Female Professors (LNVH) on December 9. This means that just under 1 in 4 professors is a woman. The share of female professors rose 1.1 percentage points compared to the previous year, when it was 23.1%. It will take until 2041 before a proportional male-female distribution will be achieved among professors, the Monitor shows.


Increase in the proportion of women in each job category

The percentage of women increased in each job category, including among the female associate professors, where there was still a decrease in the previous year. More than half of the graduates at Dutch universities are women (53%). 43.6% of PhD students is female and 41.9% of university lecturers. After that, the percentage of women fell sharply to 29.4% female associate professors and 24.2% female professors. The share of women is still decreasing sharply per step on the career ladder.


Decrease in average growth rate

In recent years, the average growth in the percentage of female professors has steadily increased, to a peak of 2.2 percentage points growth in 2018, when funds were made available for the appointment of 100 ‘extra’ female professors under the Westerdijk Talent Impulse. A year later this growth fell to 1.1 percentage points. This shows that specific actions outside the regular appointment process are necessary to create acceleration, while keeping the focus on advancement through the regular processes high, if these actions are not to have an inhibiting effect in the following years.


Growth percentage of female professors at almost all universities

The percentages of female professors are increasing at 12 of the 14 universities. Leiden University and the University of Amsterdam saw their percentages of female professors decrease slightly. With 39.9%, the Open University is approaching the 40% female professors, Maastricht University also crosses the threshold of 30% female professors with 30.1% for the first time. Radboud University and Leiden University are well over the 29% female professors. Delft University of Technology is at the bottom with 16.9%.


Striking growth at a number of universities

However, the place in the ranking does not say everything. 8 of the 14 universities show a higher growth rate than the average growth rate of 1.1 percentage points. Eindhoven University of Technology (2.9), the University of Twente (3) and the Open University (5.2) show a striking increase. Erasmus University Rotterdam tops the list with a growth rate of 6.2. The strong growth there is partly due to a reversal of functions.


Decline in growth rate of universities around the point of critical mass

Striking are the limited growth percentages of the universities, which have around 30% female professors. The point of the so-called critical mass, the percentage of an underrepresented group that is minimally needed to create a turning point in being seen and recognized as part of the whole, has almost been reached there. We know that this often entails a weakening of attention to the problem and a slipping back into old patterns with negative consequences. The LNVH calls on these universities to continue to commit themselves to a proportional male-female distribution.


Universities are putting a new dot on the horizon

At the beginning of 2020, the LNVH requested the universities to draw up target figures for female professors for the period 2020-2025. The new targets are also one of the first concrete goals of the National Action Plan for Diversity and Inclusion in higher education and research that Minister Van Engelshoven (OCW) launched in September. All 14 universities have responded to the request and put new dots on the horizon. If the target figures are achieved, no university will have a percentage of female professors below 25% by 2025. Moreover, with an average of 31.2%, 1 in 3 professors will be female for the first time. With these new targets, we must therefore have passed the point of critical mass by 2025.


Ambition level

The question naturally arises as to whether these new targets are “ambitious” enough. In the Monitor, LNVH shows that, based on the current growth rate, the 30% limit will be reached in 2024. With the 31.2% female professors in 2025, the universities are setting a nice dot on the horizon, but are committed to realistic, cautious growth and not to any special acceleration.


Will universities achieve the 2020 target?

The universities previously drew up target figures for 2020. This Monitor shows that by the end of 2019, 8 universities had already achieved their target figure for 2020. 6 universities have not yet reached their target figure for 2020. 2 of these 6 will still achieve their targets for 2020 if the same growth in 2019-2020 is assumed as the growth of the percentage at the end of 2018-2019. 4 of the 14 universities will not achieve their targets (WUR, TiU, RUG, UvA), but with some extra effort it should also be possible for them to achieve their goals.


Replacement potential: more than enough associate professors in the starting blocks

There are significantly more men than women in the 60+ age group among professors. In the coming years there will be a large outflow of men who are retiring; room, therefore, for appointing women to these positions. The LNVH calculates that more than three-quarters of the outflow through emeritus status (men and women) can be replaced by female associate professors.


Female professor larger contract size, lower salary scale

Female scientists have on average a slightly smaller contract size than their male colleagues. With the exception of female professors, who have an average contract size of 0.87 FTEs, compared to men with 0.84 FTEs. In terms of salary, women are on average systematically classified lower than their male colleagues.


Women scientists within the UMCs

The percentage of female professors at UMCs has risen from 24.9% in 2019 to 26.2% in 2020. At the UMCs, too, we see a striking decrease per consecutive job category: the percentage of women falls from 63.4% among PhD students, 52 , 9% among university lecturers, 39.8% among associate professors to 26.2% among professors. With regard to the percentages of female professors, all UMCs show an increase, except for the LUMC. This year, the VUmc has just passed the 30% female professors threshold and is at the top of the list. The Erasmus MC (24.4%) and the LUMC (22.2%) will change places this year as the last.


Management and supervision

A proportional male-female distribution in academic management within universities is not yet in sight. Among the deans in particular, there is an overrepresentation of men: only 1 in 5 deans is female. Almost 40% of the directors of education are women, and just under 18% of the directors of the research institute are women.


The average percentage of women in the Executive Boards is 34.2%. There is one executive board with more female members than male members. If we look at the Supervisory Boards (RvT), we see a percentage of women of 43.1%. 9 of the 14 Supervisory Boards have more male than female members. At the UMCs, 44.4% of the members of the Executive Board are women. This percentage is an average of 44.7% in the Supervisory Boards. There is no supervisory board at the UMCs with more female than male members.



The LNVH is pleased with the steps that have been taken and with the new dots on the horizon. It calls on the universities, UMCs, and umbrella organizations to remain alert and to guard against a further decline in growth. It is important in this regard to promote recruitment and promotion and the prevention of outflow in all job categories, not just those of the professor. The LNVH emphasizes that not only proportional representation is crucial for the retention of female scientific talent, but above all an inclusive academy that offers equal pay and equal opportunities. In other words, an eye for the future, an eye for sustainable change.


Pieter Duisenberg, chairman of the Association of Universities (VSNU): “The growth to 1 in 4 and in all job categories is positive. All the more reason for our next target: through to 1 in 3 by 2025. We are taking serious steps to create a gender balance within the academic community. ”


Ingrid van Engelshoven, Minister of Education, Culture and Science (OCW), says in response: “It is a good thing that there is growth at all levels within the universities. Now it is especially important to maintain that growth, and preferably to accelerate it further. Because let’s be clear: we are not there yet. I am very pleased that the universities have set new target figures. I hope that the ambitions from the national action plan for more diversity and inclusion will help to further accelerate the growth rate. ”


Click here to read the Monitor >>

Click here to look at the Presentation of the Monitor >>

Source: news item LNVH website (translated from Dutch to English) >>

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