The Female Faculty Network Twente (FFNT) held its online New Year meeting today. The annual event brought a discussion about the percentage of female scientists at the UT, as well as the role of FFNT. ‘We considered if FFNT should change name and focus on diversity in a broader context, but we concluded that we still need to focus on academic career of women.’
Assistant Professor Femi Ojambati (34) feels at home at the UT. But he knows quite a few colleagues for whom that is less true. Ojambati shares his thoughts on diversity and inclusiveness, and shares what he believes needs to be done. ‘If something unacceptable happens, someone has to speak up.’
In 2019, UT timetable compiler Alex Jonkhart launched the Th!ink with Pride initiative. With this platform, he wants to stimulate the discussion about diversity and inclusiveness at the university. After all, Jonkhart says, there is still plenty of work to do.
‘Machines that we interact with have power over us,’ says UT researcher Cristina Zaga. ‘Just think of facial recognition systems that have troubles recognizing dark-skinned faces, the inherent bias it has. That is why we need technology that represents the entire population.’ The scientist is leading project DEI4EmbodiedAI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Embodied Artificial Intelligence), which is officially kicking off today.
Vinod Subramaniam has the first day on ‘the job’ ahead of him. Today, he is arriving to the University of Twente as the new President of the Executive Board. He talks about his expectations, the importance of diversity and being one of the first non-Western leaders at a Dutch university. ‘I look forward to working with the community. This is not a solo journey.’
‘Th!ink with Pride’, platform for LGBTIQ+ employees at the UT, was founded one and half years ago. Although it now has only one official member, timetabling officer Alex Jonkhart, he is proud of what the initiative has achieved so far. ‘I feel colleagues appreciate it, that it helps to create environment where they feel at home.’
‘The main goal is to expand our knowledge on issues related to diversity and inclusion,’ say founders of UT initiative ‘Dialogical spaces for a diverse university’. They are organizing eight online sessions, with the first one held today, as well as producing a podcast series focused on diversity and inclusion at the UT.
Lisa Waldera (25) is a master’s student Communication Studies from Bremen, Germany. For three years now, she’s been living on campus. Next to her study, she regularly visits the cinema and enjoys concerts of all music genres. Every other week she writes about her life at the University of Twente.
‘I’m a woman, I’m brown, I’m often the minority,’ says Sterre Mkatini, the new Diversity & Inclusion Officer at the UT. ‘But’, she adds, she is not here to be a poster child for diversity.’ I’m here to work on a more diverse and inclusive environment for everyone.’
‘I’m a disabled student at the University of Twente and over the years I have come across more and more issues in accessibility.’ Anouk Noordeloos (24), Industrial Design student, explains why she’s sent a letter to the UT Executive Board, asking them for help in improving the university for people with disabilities.
The UT has found the diversity and inclusion officer in the person of Sterre Mkatini. It will be her task to improve the university’s policy on these topics. Mkatini will start her task this Friday.
The UT is planning to set up a central diversity and inclusion office for both students and employees. Starting in September, a diversity officer will be tasked to take the first steps to improve the university’s policy on diversity and inclusion.
To celebrate its 30-year anniversary and national Diversity Day, the Human Resource Management research group hosts a ‘Diversity Snacks & Drinks’ symposium this afternoon in The Gallery. HRM Professor Tanya Bondarouk talks about diversity versus inclusion and how the UT operates in that regard.
The UT strives to provide a diverse and inclusive working environment. As part of its diversity policy, the university has therefore introduced several measures including a ‘gender bias training’ and an ‘inclusive selection training’, both currently available to the Faculty Boards and selection committees.