LNVH presents the 2021 Women Professors Monitor

8 Dec 2021

LNVH presents the 2021 Women Professors Monitor

On December 9th 2021, the Dutch Network of Women Professors presented the 2021 Women Professors Monitor. The Monitor offers insight into the current ratio of men to women in academia and an overview of the current percentages of male and female professors in academic management at Dutch universities, university medical centers and other academic organizations.

1 in 4 professors a women. Increase percentage of female professors at all universities. Very small increase female professors at large (general) universities. Women significantly underrepresented in academic management. 

Milestone: 1 in 4 professors a women
The percentage of women professors working at Dutch universities is 25.7%, according to the Women Professors Monitor 2021, which was presented on December 9th by The Dutch Network of Women Professors (LNVH). This means that 1 in 4 professors is female. A milestone. The share of female professors increased 1.5 percentage points compared to last year, when it was 24.2%. It will take until 2040 before a proportional male-female distribution among professors will be achieved.

The higher up the academic career ladder, the fewer women
More than half of the graduates at Dutch universities are women (53.5%). 44.4% of PhD students are women and 43.5% of assistant professors. Then, the percentage of women strongly declines, to 30.4% female associate professors and 25.7% female professors. At the end of 2020, however, the percentage of female associate professors will pass the 30% threshold for the first time, another milestone.

Growth in percentage of female professors at all universities
Between the end of 2019 and the end of 2020, there has been an increase in the percentage of female professors at all universities. At the end of 2020, 4 universities have passed the 30% female professors threshold: the Open University, Maastricht University, Radboud University Nijmegen and Leiden University. As in previous years, the Open University takes first place with 42% female professors. This makes it the first university to exceed the 40% female professor threshold. Delft University of Technology finds itself at the bottom of the list with 17.9% female professors. TU Delft is the only university that has not yet reached the 20% threshold of female professors.

Growth rates vary widely
7 out of 14 universities show a higher growth rate than the average growth rate of 1.5 percentage points. Erasmus University Rotterdam (3.5) and the University of Groningen (3.2) show a striking increase. The very small increase in the percentages of female professors at the large (general) universities is remarkable: at Radboud University Nijmegen the percentage increased by 0.1 percentage point, at the University of Amsterdam 0.2 percentage point, at Utrecht University 0.3 percentage point and at Leiden University 0.9 percentage point. All well below the average increase of 1.5 percentage points.

Are universities meeting their targets?
Universities have set target figures for the percentages of female professors to be achieved in the period 2015 - 2020. At the end of 2020, 11 of the 14 universities have achieved their 2020 target, only the University of Amsterdam, Tilburg University and Wageningen University still need to go the extra mile to achieve the goals.

At the beginning of 2020, the LNVH requested the universities to set targets for the percentages of female professors for the period 2020-2025. If the target figures are achieved, no university will have a percentage of female professors below 25% by 2025. Moreover, with an average of 31.2%, 1 in 3 professors will be female for the first time.

In the Monitor, the LNVH indicates which universities will achieve the targets and which not (just) yet. This is done on the basis of the growth in the previous year. In this Monitor, we see that based on the growth at the end of 2019-2020, 8 of the 14 universities are achieving their target for 2025 by the end of 2025.

The forecast calculated based on the period ultimo 2015 - ultimo2020 results in  a different and more positive picture: 11 of the 14 universities will reach their target by the end of 2025. This is because the effect of the Westerdijk Talent Impulse (‘Westerdijk Talentimpuls’) is then taken into account. With that impulse, 100 extra female professors were appointed in 2018, in the context of the Westerdijk year in which we celebrated 100 years of female professors. This would therefore argue in favor of an extra impulse, sector-wide (such as the Westerdijk Talent Impulse) or per institution, to achieve the set objectives.

Level of ambition
Judging by the gap that can still be bridged until the end of 2025, we can conclude that not all universities have set their target figure with the same ambition. The Monitor shows that, based on the average growth rate of the past 10 years, the 30% threshold will already be reached in 2024, one year earlier than the ultimate target year of the new targets for 2025. This therefore argues in favor of reviewing and adapting the targets making sure the universities won’t lose their speed.

Female academics more often on a temporary contract
In all job categories, female academics are more often on temporary contracts than their male colleagues. At 4.8%, the difference is greatest among assistant professors: 31.6% of female assistant professors have a temporary contract, compared to 26.8% of male assistant professors.

Female professor larger contract size, lower salary scale
On average, female academics have a slightly smaller contract size than their male colleagues. Except for female professors, who have on average a larger contract size with 0.87 FTE than the men with 0.84 FTE. In terms of salary, women are on average systematically classified lower than their male colleagues. This is unchanged compared to last year.

Enough female associate professors to replace the outflow of professors
Among professors there are significantly more men than women in the age category 60 and older. In the coming years there will be a large outflow of men who are retiring; so there is room for appointing women to these positions. The LNVH calculates that 81% of the outflow due to retirement(men and women) can be replaced by female associate professors.

Female academics within the UMCs
The percentage of female professors at UMCs has increased from 26.2% in 2020 to 28% in 2021. That is a growth of 1.6 percentage points, compared to 1.3 percentage points last year. 6 of the 8 UMCs show an increase in the percentage of female professors. Only at the UMCU and Erasmus MC there is a decrease: from 29.2% to 28.8% and from 24.4% to 22.5% respectively. The VUmc and RadboudUMC have passed the 30% threshold in 2021. Both UMCs show a strong growth of 5.2 and 5.7 percentage points respectively. As in the previous year, the ErasmusMC is lagging behind with 22.5%. ErasmusMC switched places with the LUMC, which is doing slightly better in 2021 with 23.8%.

Management and supervision
The percentage of deans at Dutch universities shows a slight decrease. Still only 1 in 5 deans is female. 43% of the directors of educational institutes is female, but only 1 in 5 of the directors of research institutes is female.

In the Executive Boards of the universities, the percentage increased significantly to 40%. There are two universities with not a single female college member. At 49.3%, the male-female distribution is virtually equal in the Supervisory Boards of the universities for the first time. At the UMCs, 46.7% of the members of the Executive Board are women. In the Supervisory Boards, this percentage is 43.6% on average. 5 of the 7 Supervisory Boards have more male than female members.

The Netherlands in European perspective
In 2021, the European Commission published a new edition of the so-called 'She Figures', containing figures related to female academics in the EU Member States. The Monitor 2021 provides an overview of female professors in a European perspective: The Netherlands is still in the lower regions, in 21st place of the EU-28. We climbed 3 spots compared to the previous publication of the She Figures in 2015.

In conclusion
This year the LNVH is commemorating its 20th anniversary. The network was established at a time when the percentage of female professors was 6.5%. Much has changed, but much still requires attention. Especially now that we are dealing with a pandemic that magnifies inequalities in academia. The LNVH's focus has shifted from raising only the percentages of female professors, to talent retention across the board. In addition, insight into the number of women in decision-making positions, proper coordination between the influx and promotion of female academics in all job categories and from all backgrounds, and the prevention of outflow is crucial. This also applies to creating an inclusive and safe work environment in which equal pay is the norm. The LNVH will continue to strive for this in a critical alliance with the sector in the coming period.

Pieter Duisenberg, president of The Universities of the Netherlands (formerly VSNU) in response: “It is a good thing that the increase in female academics is continuing and that the number of female professors has reached 1 in 4 for the first time. Also positive is the increase in the percentage of women in the Executive Boards and an almost equal male-female ratio in the Supervisory Boards. In the coming years, we will continue to strive for a balanced male-female distribution in the academic community and aim for 1 in 3 by 2025.”

  • Download the 2021 Women Professors Monitor here

About the Dutch Network of Women Professors
The Dutch Network of Women Professors (LNVH) is a network, expert and lobby organisation with more than 1500 affiliated female associate and full professors. LNVH aims to promote equal representation of women in academia, works towards the betterment of the position of women of all backgrounds and pushes for an inclusive and safe academic community. For more information, visit www.LNVH.nl.

Note for editors:

To request more information and/or an interview, please contact Lidwien Poorthuis, Dutch Network of Women Professors, +316-15207225 – poorthuis@lnvh.nl.