‘We need to be open to external candidates'

| Michaela Nesvarova

The total percentage of female students who enroll for Mechanical Engineering is only 6%. How can we achieve better gender diversity, not only at the Faculty of Engineering Technology, but also at other UT faculties? ‘External candidates are often perceived as risk by selection committees, but we need to give equal opportunities to candidates from within the university and from abroad,’ thinks Geert Dewulf.

‘We have many brilliant PhD’s and researchers here and naturally we want to keep them, but we can’t look only for internal candidates. You need people of many different backgrounds to achieve diversity. Because heterogeneity generates innovation,’ said Geert Dewulf, who led today’s FFNT (Female Faculty Network Twente) lunch discussion on the topic ‘What can faculties do to raise gender awareness?’.

‘Loyalty can work against you’

According to Dewulf, UT is still very regionally oriented. ‘Our region is important, but there is an issue with diversity. And diversity is more than gender – we need people of various ages, cultures, ethnicity and family status. We need a mechanism to make this happen in all UT departments,’ stated the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering Technology and Professor of Planning and Development. ‘We need to be open-minded towards external candidates. Loyalty is a great thing, but it can sometimes work against you.’

Partner support

Besides being open to more staff members from abroad, Geert Dewulf believes it is necessary to also offer flexible work arrangements. ‘In the end, we want the talent and different people have different requirements. It is not just about salary, but also about job opportunities for the candidate’s partner or international schools for their children. At the UT, we are currently not used to this. We should stimulate more personal approach at the faculty level.’

Dewulf stressed it is crucial to not forget about people’s family situation and hopefully create positions for their life partners. ‘When I went to work at Stanford several years ago, my wife received a lot of invitations to various activities there. Such service is missing here, but it is very important. We should provide partner support.’

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