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Marloes van Engen on gender policy

"Our policy contributes to an inclusive university and more diversity"

Marloes van Engen PED


"We aim to have 25 percent female professors and 40 percent female associate professors. If we succeed, we will have a university where women’s potential is used more fully than currently is the case. For many years now, about half the number of students studying here have been men, the other half women. However, if you look at the top positions, the vast majority there are men. We want to redress the balance. For the university as such, more diversity is a good thing."


"The Philip Eijlander Diversity Program is part of an integral diversity policy. All staff newly appointed to supervising positions take part in courses on leadership and management, including modules on diversity. In addition, there is an intensive program running that stakeholders in our Schools are taking part in and that is intended to map out the causes and effects of gender inequality in their particular School and to initiate concrete interventions. We are also taking a look: at the pay gap between men and women and how to abolish it, at how the way we communicate can be made more inclusive, and we scrutinize our hiring, selection and evaluation procedures for unintended biases."

Unintended biases

"Psychological research has taught us a lot about how our brain works. We have stereotypical images of what a professor looks like, of what constitutes excellence, and what research is. The thing is that these images are ‘gendered’. Our stereotypical expectations of women and men influence decisions that affect careers at different moments: which candidate for a position we are going to go for, who we ask to join an important project, who we place in visible positions, how we evaluate courses by male and female lecturers, how we evaluate research output, how we evaluate someone’s contribution to society, how much money we grant a person … In all these choices, chances are that stereotypes may result in a slight bias against women. Nobody intentionally discriminates against women - or against men, for that matter; they can be confronted with discrimination as well, for instance, when they openly take their care responsibilities seriously -, but the result is that women tend to move ahead relatively late in their careers. Or that they give up altogether."

Understanding society

"First and foremost, perhaps, we want to make the university a more inclusive place. As an organization we have a social responsibility; we need to treat our people well and we need to make sure that individuals, men and women, but also international and national staff, are given equal opportunities and there should be room for individual talents to flourish. Understanding society applies equally if not even more so to the organization’s responsibility towards its employees. I am convinced that our policy contributes to the realization of an inclusive university and to more diversity. There will still be macho men here, but all kinds of other people as well. And that is the way it should be."

Marloes van Engen is associate professor at the department of Human Resource Studies at Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences.