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The Eindhoven University of Technology has recruited 35 female scientists since it started its new hiring policy last July to address the gender balance in its scientific staff. The policy, which stipulates that faculty positions are only open to women in the first half-year of recruitment, has more than doubled the yearly increase of women in these positions at TU/e. The university board finds these first results encouraging.

EU-wide the Netherlands has one of the lowest percentages of female professors, and within the Netherlands, TU Eindhoven has long been the university with the lowest percentage in this respect. The university wanted to change. this because it feels “this imbalance is not only unfair to women, but it also hurts science: mixed workforces have proven to come to better results”.

The university has implemented several, cumulative measures over the last ten years to improve its gender balance. With limited results: at the achieved pace of increase of faculty (assistant, associate, and full professors) it was expected to take another ten to twenty years to reach a good balance. Therefore the university decided last year to use another approach, via its Irène Curie Fellowship program, which is only open to top female scientists and runs for five years.

© Bart van Overbeeke

The first results show this program is successful, the university. says in a statement today. “Since last July up to 1 April this year TU Eindhoven recruited 35 Irène Curie Fellows: 29 assistant professors, 2 associate professors, and 4 full professors. Thanks to the program the percentage of female faculty has gone up to 25 percent.”

“A minority stopping to be a minority”

“It is great to see that the Irène Curie Fellowship program is delivering, with the recruitment of 35 top female scientists”, says Robert-Jan Smits, President of TU/e. “And although these figures are encouraging, we are not there yet. We want to reach 30 percent women in the tenured academic staff within five years. Because at that percentage a minority stops being a minority and has the position and influence it deserves.”

TU/e rector Frank Baaijens thinks the results could not have been achieved without the Irène Curie program. “We see the program is helping us attract talents from all over the world, which is going to boost science and education at our university. And it helps us greatly in creating a more balanced academic workforce, which we feel is a bare necessity for universities in the 21st century.”

More on women in tech here