Ambassadors’ Network looks beyond gender

| Rense Kuipers

Not only focus on gender, but on diversity and inclusiveness as a whole. The Ambassadors' Network is moving in a new direction. 'A lot has changed at the UT, so it's good to look more broadly,' says chairperson Marieke Huisman.

Photo by: RIKKERT HARINK
Marieke Huisman, Professor of Software Reliability and chairperson of the Ambassadors' Network

'When we use the word diversity we quickly think of gender diversity, but issues around diversity and inclusiveness occur at all levels,' says Huisman, Professor of Software Reliability. Think, for example, of the Black Lives Matter discussion worldwide, but also of internationalization at the UT.'

Look wider

Reason for the Ambassadors' Network to shift its course. Whereas it was more about the advancement of women to higher positions, now there is attention for diversity in a broad sense. 'We offered female talent with an incentive fund a financial push to grow, but people with potential get that push anyway, that's why we're looking at the broader picture,' says Huisman.

That's why the incentive fund was revamped. With a budget of 45 thousand euros, the Ambassadors' Network now finances bottom-up ideas that promote diversity and inclusiveness at the UT. 'Last year we had to implement this quite abruptly and put out a last-minute call. Despite the fact that we could not share the initiative broadly, we received many - and nice - applications,' says Huisman.

Last year, the network honoured six projects, from an international sports day, a photo competition and language café to research among LGBTQI+ staff and a platform for the integration of international PhD students. 'The great thing about these initiatives is that they come from within the organization. We can now facilitate projects that live with people who want to make a difference. That gives a lot of energy,' says the chairperson.

The deadline to apply for the incentive fund this year is 15 August. 'If members of the UT community already have good ideas, or get good ideas during their holidays, submit them', says Huisman. 'Even though we don't have a big budget, a lot of good ideas don't even have to cost that much and we don't have any hard demands at all. Sometimes we can help by facilitating or pushing initiatives through to the organisation'.

Throughput

The advisory function of the Ambassadors' Network, mainly towards senior management and the HR department, has also changed and focuses on diversity and inclusiveness in a broad sense. 'A number of things are not up to us, but up to the organisation,' says the chairperson. 'For example, we advised that the new diversity and inclusion office should not be housed at HR, but at General Affairs. After all, a lot of things are not only a matter for employees, but also for students.'

The Ambassadors' Network does not approach gender policy as a job completed, stresses Huisman. 'More attention has been paid to it, among other things in the form of the Hypatia programme. The number of female professors is increasing, but at the same time the number of female associate professors is decreasing. Throughput remains a point of attention.'