At the end of 2022, the Langeveld Building was opened on the Woudestein campus. This highly sustainable building is named after Henny Langeveld (1926-2004), Professor of Emancipation Issues and also the first female professor at Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR). Who was she and what is her legacy?
Hendrika Maria Langeveld was associated with our university for two periods: from 1962 to 1973 as lecturer and professor at the Netherlands School of Economics, predecessor of the EUR. From 1986 until her retirement in 1991, she held the chair in Emancipation Issues.
In 1969, she was appointed professor at the chair of Empirical Sociology at the Faculty of Social Sciences, now the Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences. Langeveld entered the books as the first female professor at our university. She said in an interview that this was not widely acknowledged at the time. And she considered the fact that she was the first woman to become a professor in a male stronghold a less important issue than the manner in which: before becoming a professor, she was first appointed as a lecturer, while most men at the time directly became professors.
This period also saw the publication of Langeveld's perhaps most important work: Vrouw-Beroep-Maatschappij (1969). In it, she evaluates the positions of women in the Dutch labour system of those days. At the time, this book was the standard work in the field of social-scientific analysis of women's emancipation.
Societal impact through scientific research
In 1973, she made the move to The Hague and became an executive member of the Scientific Council for Government Policy. This was not a surprising move: Langeveld was known for actively seeking a connection with policy through her research. She excelled at this: she made important contributions to policy-making within various social issues. Her attitude fits perfectly with our university's tradition, which we now also make explicit under the heading 'making positive societal impact'.
Her research on topics such as the culture of the welfare state, developments around marriage and family and women's emancipation have been influential and we are still benefitting from it. By having a building on our campus bearing her name, we are permanently reminded of her pioneering research.
The 25/25 policy initiative
Since Henny Langeveld's appointment as the first woman to be appointed a full professor at EUR in 1969, she has been followed by many others. There is now a balanced gender diversity among PhD students and assistant professors. But with each subsequent step in the academic career, gender diversity decreases and thus there is still no equal representation of men and women in senior positions, including the professorship.
Therefore, EUR has adopted a policy measure to ensure that 25% of professors are female by 2025, up from only 14.5% in 2018: the so-called 25/25 initiative. In this way, the university continues to actively work towards gender equality. Thanks to the 25/25 initiative, we have currently already reached the 25% share. Meanwhile, we have increased our goal to 35% by 2025. And we will continue, because in the next round of 25/25 we will also include the ethnic cultural diversity dimension.