IWD 2020 with Sigrid Kaag

On the occasion of International Women's Day, Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) organized a meeting on 5 March on the importance of gender equality in academia and the importance of female role models for the current and next generation. The highlight being a lunch event on gender equity in academia, of which Sigrid Kaag, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation delivered the keynote.

Breaking a vicious circle

In a far-ranging and eloquent speech, Ms Kaag focused on women’s leadership and gender equity in academia, drawing on her experience in international politics and conflict resolution.

Ms Kaag spoke about a ‘vicious circle’ facing women in politics and academia, highlighting how stereotypes continue to hinder women venturing into these fields, with the subsequent lack of women then breeding the same stereotypes.

In addition, Ms Kaag added how the creation of policies and knowledge as ‘manmade products’ were neither free of similar processes of stereotyping or in containing ‘unconscious assumptions’. Consequently, greater efforts need to be made to obtain more ‘representative knowledge’ and data, both of which gender-diverse leadership and an enabling environment for it, can achieve.

Furthermore, Ms Kaag also underlined the importance of male involvement in the furthering of gender equity, noting that ’50 % of the world’s population cannot be ignored’ and that men must be energised to take an active role in co-creating gender-equitable practices.

An active role for everyone

In a powerful opening speech, Hans Smits, enthused about his quiet encouragement on the efforts made in the past year to by the EUR community to bring gender equality into being. “We need to accept and reinforce that gender balance is not a women’s issue but an economic issue, as well as a moral one. And above all, we must accept that we, as university and as individuals, have an active role in promoting and defending these principles. That is why I am pleased that we can empower our female academics with our 25/25 approach”, emphasised Hans Smits, interim Chairman of the Executive Board.

Nearly 100 female academics participate in 25/25 policy measure

During the same event, EUR officials provided a progress update about the 25/25 initiative. Revealing the overwhelming demand by female staff across EUR. Chief Diversity Officer, Professor Semiha Denktaş announced that after discussion with nearly all faculties at EUR, all eligible applicants were accepted into the program. From mid-March, nearly 100 female academics will begin to benefit from a tailored mix of mentoring, focused workshops and portfolio development, with the programme progressing through the year. “With this measure, we want to increase the percentage of female professors. This way, our talented female academics can develop and grow further. This measure also ensures a more transparent and fair appointment process that is gender-neutral”, said Professor Denktaş.

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