Sarah Giest joins the LNVH Board

1 Jan 2024

Sarah Giest joins the LNVH Board

As of today, January 1, prof. dr. Sarah Giest joins the LNVH Board. Sarah Giest is Professor of Public Policy with a focus on Innovation and Sustainability at the Public Administration Institute of Leiden University. To introduce herself to the network, we asked her three questions:


Can you give a short description of your research and motivate why you choose to work in academia?

I am passionate about research and teaching at the intersection of innovation and environmental as well as social sustainability through a policy lens. I focus specifically on themes of access and inclusion in the context of (digital) public service delivery as well as data-use in government for social and environmental sustainability goals.

When I moved to Canada to work on my PhD, I found a very inspiring academic environment with a great mentor. This sparked my passion for research that is closely linked to societal challenges and the opportunities in connecting with policymakers.

The Women Professors Monitor 2023 shows that at all 11 universities with female PhD graduates in the field of Behavioral & Social Sciences, which includes Public Administration, the proportion of female PhD graduates is more than 50% (53% - 82.5%). Therefore, it is all the more striking that 10 out of the 11 universities have a proportion of female professors that is less than 50% (the average is 39,9%). What do you think is the biggest obstacle for women in academia, in your field of research and more generally?

Drawing from personal experience, an absence of female role models as well as good mentorship (by both men and women) is an issue. Female role models show that the path to professor (including Director, Dean or Rector) is possible and supported within an institution. It sends a signal to everyone that women are seen and welcomed at all levels. This goes hand-in-hand with mentorship and guidance in supporting female colleagues. As a foreigner especially, it is hard to build networks and understand the Dutch system when it comes to unwritten rules and norms and mentorship is needed to navigate this. Similarly, early-career academics stand to gain significantly from mentorship around pivotal career decisions in research, teaching, service, and impact. 

Which themes do you think the LNVH should definitely work on in the next couple of years, and why?

The LNVH is doing important work in raising awareness around equal representation of women in academia of diverse backgrounds. This, looking at the latest numbers, has to continue since equal representation is sometimes assumed, but not actively sought out. Two things that I would highlight going forward are:

  • Emphasizing that everyone benefits from a diverse environment, which in this context means, equal access to all positions in academia for women and linking this to the larger discussion on Recognition & Rewards in the Netherlands.
  • Based on my own experience, active ally- and mentorship by women and men is needed to elevate and support women to make steps for thriving in an academic environment.  


More information about the current LNVH board members can be found here.