Groningen University reprimanded for appointing female professors

Groningen University (RUG) has a pretty good policy to improve the gender balance with full professors, which is generally embarassingly poor in the Netherlands.

However, the Committee for Equal Treatment received complaints from the Groningen student union that RUG has been discriminating men with the appointment of 12 full professors in 2010 and 2011. RUG created the posts especially for women assistant professors and men weren’t allowed to compete. This is against the law. The reason the student union filed the complaint is that, although they appreciate the efforts of RUG to improve the gender balance, more should be done about structural measures to improve the position of women professors instead, like making it easier to work part time.

The 12 women professors in question will not be required to relinquish their positions.

So technically, the reprimand was for discrimination, not for appointing women professors, but some reports in the media originally seemed to indicate that, hence this headline.


One thought on “Groningen University reprimanded for appointing female professors

  1. The Netherlands does not have a good track record in gender balance in women, not only at the professor level but also at the lecturer (assistant professor) level. I read what the Groningen student union proposes to do about this (other than affirmative action). They write (a free translation from Dutch): Instead of [affirmative action] the Groningen student union wishes to promote structural measures. For one thing, it should become easier to have parttime positions at the University of Groningen. Also, when appointments are made we have to make sure that if a candidate has worked parttime, the number of publications doesn’t say everything”. These ‘structural measures’ strike me as grossly inadequate – indeed, there is a tradition in The Netherlands for women to work part time (especially mothers). I’m not sure how much this is forced on them, an active choice, or a sort of cultural ideal of the family with 1.5 incomes.
    I’m not saying Dutch women (and men) who really want to have part-time lecturing or professor positions shouldn’t get the opportunity to do so. But it’s my feeling that systematically relegating women to such positions does not help them at all.
    The Groningen solution may not be ideal, but I’m not sure how we can improve the gender balance short of affirmative action.

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