FFNT sounds alarm about diversity

| Maaike Platvoet

The Female Faculty Network Twente (FFNT) in a pressing letter to the Executive Board expresses their serious concerns with cutbacks on the diversity policy of the UT. "If this happens, the UT will lose her appeal, both nationally and internationally."

Photo by: Gijs van Ouwerkerk

Strong words are spoken by the chair of the Female Faculty Network Twente Liudvika Leisyte. However, her concerns are realistic now that the UT's diversity policy has come under pressure due to cutbacks. Next Monday the Executive Board decides which changes will be implemented. It concerns 0.3 FTE in support in the field of diversity, as well as a shift in the budget of the funds, such as the Aspasia Fund and the Incentive Fund.

Great steps

"We've noticed that the Executive Board's attention for diversity policy is lessening," says Leisyte. "There have been some portfolio changes since the new President of the Board took office last year. Diversity policy has faded to the background because of this." In the meantime she notes that diversity becomes a more active topic of discussion at other Dutch universities. "Others are taking great steps forward in this area. For example, they appoint women to their boards more often and set high standards when it comes to the dream flow of women to the top. The UT will now do the exact opposite."

Decentralized policy

According to board member Kees van Ast the FFNT "jumps to conclusions". "We still pursue a policy that focuses on women. We're always paying close attention that women are a part of application committees as well. It's true that the target figures still haven't been achieved. However, I don't think that's due to the cutbacks of 0,3 FTE." Van Ast wants to emphasize that the Executive Board's priorities haven't changed, though he does admit that there will be some changes. "In 2011 several agreements were made about central stimulation of diversity. The term for those agreements is almost over. We would now like to see that diversity becomes a decentralized policy with the faculties becoming primarily responsible for its implementation. The 0.3 FTE in support will thereby lapse. Together with the Ambassadors Network we want to see how we can compensate. It is therefore mostly a change in execution."


The FFNT is of a different opinion. There had, of course, been a lot of effort spent already in the area of diversity policy, by the Executive Board, the Female Faculty Network, the Ambassadors Network and OPUT. This resulted in winning the national 'Appealing Example Talent to the Top Monitor 2013' for the UT. "It just doesn't mean that we're done now," says Leisyte. "As the number of women in the academic top is still a bit thin compared to other Dutch universities. But even thinner compared to international universities. There are no women amongst the deans, scientific directors and in the Executive Board either.

Kees van Ast says he first wants to talk about the diversity policy with the Executive Board. Afterwards he would like to meet with the FFNT to talk about their letter.

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