Only 17% of UT associate professors are women

| Michaela Nesvarova

The number of female associate professors at the UT is low compared to other universities. While the national average is 29.4%, only 17% of all UT associate professors are women. ‘We need to consider this with great care,’ says Vanessa Magnanimo, chairwoman of Female Faculty Network Twente (FFNT).

Numbers of female academics per university were published in the Women Professors Monitor 2020 by LNVH (the Dutch Network of Women Professors). ‘Based on this monitor and the numbers we collected at the UT, we noticed that the percentage of female associate professors is low in Twente,’ says Magnanimo. ‘It is even lower than the number of full female professors, which is now at 21%. That is rather strange and specific to the UT, or at least to technical universities.' 

Percentage of female academics at the University of Twente (updated November 2020), shared by FFNT. Source of information: HR department at the UT.  34% UD (assistant professors). 17% UHD (associate professors). 21% HGL (full professors)  

This issue was already brought up by LNVH during their visit to the University of Twente last year, adds Magnanimo. ‘We have known for some time that the step from assistant (UD) to associate professor (UHD) is particularly difficult for women. Now everyone is more aware of this and we are trying to figure out what actions to take.’

‘I think two factors play a role in the low number,’ continues the FFNT chairwoman. ‘Firstly, the step from UD to UHD is very critical. Academic achievements and a long-term vision are requested in order to be successful. At the same time, the UD-UHD step usually coincides with that time of life when a work-life balance is particularly difficult to achieve, for example because of young children. This tension between work and private space strongly affects women choices. Secondly, universities have been focusing on hiring more full female professors, through Hypatia chairs for example, but they didn’t change any policies for associate professors. This might have created anomalies in the proportion between associate and full professors.’

The ‘17% anomaly’ shows that there are not enough systematic measures at the UT, believes Magnanimo. ‘Targets at the UT and other technical universities were set for only one level: full professors. It would be beneficial to have targets for all levels. As FFNT, we want to bring this to the attention of the HR department and the Executive Board. These issues should be considered when designing criteria for the tenure track.’ 

Associate professors per faculty 

The numbers of female associate professors at the UT vastly differ per each faculty. While the BMS faculty has 32% of women at UHD level, the TNW faculty only has 7% of female scientists at the position.

Percentage of female associate professors (UHD) at the University of Twente as of May 2020. Table obtained from the Evaluation of Hypatia chairs document published last year.


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