DEWIS is the women’s network of scientists at the TU Delft and our mission is to help TU Delft to attract more women and create an inclusive, safe environment that makes women want to stay, while giving them the opportunity to grow and flourish in their academic careers. Another important goal for DEWIS is to reach a male-female ratio that more accurately reflects society.

22 December 2023

Leila Alizadehsaravi 2023 DEWIS Award Winner

The 2023 DEWIS Award goes to Leila Alizadehsaravi, in recognition of her outstanding contributions to diversity and inclusion within our academic community! In her role as a postdoctoral researcher, Leila has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to diversity and inclusion. Leila has been instrumental in driving positive change by actively working to improve equality and diversity practices. Her unwavering commitment to empowering under-represented groups, with a particular focus on women, serves as an inspiration to all members of our academic community! Leila Alizadehsaravi and Rob Mudde Leila's extraordinary work as a co-organiser of the Bicycle and Motorcycle Dynamics Conference held in Delft in October 2023 sets her apart. As the first female co-organiser in the history of this conference series, Leila has played a key role in changing its demographics. Through her initiatives, including travel awards for women and early career researchers from developing countries, expanded promotional efforts, and encouragement of increased female representation on the scientific committee, she has significantly increased female participation from less than 5% to an impressive 20%. These achievements may seem modest in numerical terms, but in the context of this conference series they represent a monumental step towards a more diverse and inclusive future. Leila's efforts have received positive feedback from regular conference attendees, signalling a promising trajectory for increased diversity in the years to come. Her tireless efforts to promote diversity not only shape the present, but also lay the foundation for a more vibrant and inclusive academic community in the future. Leila Alizadehsaravi The selection process for the 2023 DEWIS Award proved to be a challenging task, a testament to the richness and diversity of the proposals put forward by our nominees. From the nominations we selected three top candidates. Each candidate has demonstrated remarkable commitment and excellence in their respective contributions to advancing gender equality and inclusivity. f.l.t.r. Astrid Taal, Rob Mudde, Zofia Lukszo, Leila Alizadehsaravi, Ingrid Mulder, Anna Lukina We are also immensely proud of the outstanding efforts that the other two nominees have made to promote gender equality and foster inclusion within our academic institution: Medina Bandic , a PhD candidate in Quantum & Computer Engineering Department from the Faculty of EEMCS and in QuTech institute. She has been recognised for her exceptional commitment to diversity and inclusivity within the academic community. As well as being an outstanding PhD who has made a significant contribution to the field of science, Medina goes above and beyond to promote diversity in academia. Grazia Bastasin , Program manager at QuTech Academy and Diversity and Inclusion Officer at QuTech, contributing in an outstanding way to gender diversity at QuTech. Grazia's unwavering commitment has significantly enhanced the experience of female staff at QuTech, creating inspiring spaces for discussions, sharing resources, and addressing challenges.

09 October 2023

Parents and caregivers: an interview with Aimée Sakes and DirkJan Veeger

Family caregiving is part of the fabric of life. Many scientists, both male and female, have children or are starting a family at the same time as maintaining and building a career. Juggling teaching, publishing, finding a new (or permanent) job, relocating, attending conferences, and actually doing research sometimes requires more hours in the day than exist. So, how do colleagues combine this with parenting? Where do they find support? And what can the organisation do to create a more inclusive working environment where parents can grow and flourish in their careers? DEWIS is talking with scientists with caregiving responsibilities, and we aim to start a dialogue around how we can make changes within the TU Delft to support those scientists who are also parents. In this interview we talk with Aimée Sakes, Assistant Professor at the Department of Biomechanical Engineering at the Faculty of 3mE and her supervisor Professor DirkJan Veeger at the Department of Biomechanical Engineering at the Faculty of 3mE. Aimee received Veni funding from the Dutch Research Council (NWO) in August for her research on catheter technology. DirkJan is the former Department Chair and Director of Education at the Faculty of 3mE. “Managers should embrace (future and current) parents and create an atmosphere within the department in which parenthood is a part of life, including work life.” ― DirkJan Veegers “I think there should be more support for fathers who want to take parental leave or who have to take care of their sick wife and baby during maternity leave. There are still too many preconceptions about men with caregiving responsibilities.” ― Aimée Sakes In this interview we talk with Aimée Sakes, Assistant Professor at the Department of Biomechanical Engineering at the Faculty of 3mE and her supervisor Professor DirkJan Veeger at the Department of Biomechanical Engineering at the Faculty of 3mE. Aimee received Veni funding from the Dutch Research Council (NWO) in August for her research on catheter technology. DirkJan is the former Department Chair and Director of Education at the Faculty of 3mE. What challenges did you face as a parent with an academic career? Aimée: “After I became pregnant with my second daughter, I couldn’t work more than 50 percent of my hours and I had a lot of guilt. I found it particularly difficult to ask my colleagues to take over my tasks. I felt like I was letting my colleagues down. And I also felt pressure to keep working. Leave doesn’t always come at the right time. So I ended up submitting a large application during my maternity leave, for example. I didn’t want to fall behind in my career.” Where did you go for support? Aimée: “For me, it was essential that my manager, DirkJan, understood my situation. I was given time to recover and DirkJan’s confidence in me really helped me get through this phase.” What can supervisors do to support (future and current) parents? DirkJan: “It’s really good that Aimée came to me talk about this. It was difficult for her because she felt that she was responsible for the situation. But that’s not the point. Starting a family is part of life. There needs to be understanding and support for that and, above all, common sense. Young, ambitious men and women will usually have children. It’s impossible to carry on working with the same intensity as they did before having a family, and it’s unreasonable to expect that of people. I think it’s important to emphasise that this phase and the challenges that come with it are a responsibility for all of us.” What do you think the organisation can do to support parents? DirkJan: “Young people are hugely ambitious, but also feel they have to keep up in the academic race. Maternity leave and illness are events that make you feel like you can’t keep up in the race. This is a sign that the way we value people isn’t really working. We should assess performance in relation to opportunities. This involves evaluating the quality and impact of the staff member’s performance, taking into account the impact of relevant personal circumstances. ( Guideline: Assessing achievement relative to opportunity ) But we still focus too much on things like the H-index, not least because these are easily quantifiable quantities and we won’t change that easily. Therefore, it’s important that we create an atmosphere in the department in which it is normal to be less productive when you have caregiving responsibilities.” Aimée: “It’s important for parents to be able to share experiences with other (future and current) parents. Go and have coffee with a pregnant colleague for example, and tell her your story and how you have dealt with these challenges. This helps people feel less isolated and lets them know it’s okay to ask for help. I also think there should be more support for fathers who want to take parental leave or who have to take care of their sick wife and baby during maternity leave. There are still too many preconceptions about men with caregiving responsibilities.” DirkJan: “I’ve noticed that men hardly ever discuss this. They can, but they don’t. It’s still a taboo subject within the university setting. It all starts with normalising family formation for men and women, and understanding that this phase takes an incredible amount of energy. This is part of life. Managers should embrace (future and current) parents and create an atmosphere within the department in which parenthood is a part of life, including work life.” If you would like to talk more about this topic with someone from DEWIS, please contact us at As an (international) employee , it might be difficult to find the right information to suit your situation as a parent. There are a number of topics on this page that may be of interest to you. The TU Delft website Coming to Delft Service for international employees contains a lot of information about your stay in the Netherlands.

Upcoming events

08 March 2024 09:00 till 14:00

International Women’s Day activities

International Women’s Day activities 08 March 2024 09:00 till 14:00 - Location: Aula, Auditorium | Add to my calendar The TU Delft celebrates International Women's Day with the theme "One World, Thousand Women". The theme shows how beautiful it is that each woman is unique and different, but also how important it is to recognise the role of women as agents of change, driving progress towards prosperous and equitable economies and a healthy planet for future generations. In a world facing multiple crises that put immense pressure on communities, achieving gender equality is more important than ever. DEWIS (Delft Women in Science) will celebrate the occasion from 12 February to 8 March with interesting activities such as discussions, presentations, an exhibition and a special lunch. On 8 March (9:00-13:30), an inspiring celebration will take place in the auditorium of the Aula, with trainer Esther Mollema , an engaging and insightful panel and captivating music and dance. During the day we will explore the need for women in scientific leadership. To find sustainable solutions to our global challenges, we need women to contribute. Why are women urgently needed to solve the climate crisis, accelerate the transition to clean energy and tackle our health challenges? How can we unleash the vast untapped talent - starting with filling classrooms, laboratories and boardrooms with women scientists? Your presence will add to the richness of this empowering event. Everybody from the TUD community is welcome – diversity is the root of success! Register here! Speakers Esther Mollema a renowned speaker and leader in inclusive leadership development, as one of our distinguished guests. Marien van der Meer Vice President Operations of the TU Delft Puck Wijnia Project leader of the Sustainability Team of the TU Delft. Panel members: Elsemiek Meijs Coach and counselor in organisations, TU Alumna and a member of the Delft Female Impact Community Sarah Giest Professor Public Policy with a focus on Innovation and Sustainability Irene Grossmann Assistant Professor Safety in Healthcare at the TU Delft and co-founder of Institute for Health Systems Science Jose Rueda Torres Associate Professor in the Electrical Sustainable Energy Department at the TU Delft and involved in the EU-project FEMPower Ralien Bekkers Climate activist and writer of the book ‘Zo kan het niet langer‘ (‘It can’t go on like this’) Moderator: Vera Popovich Dr. Vera Popovich, Associate Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) at the TU Delft Chairperson: Zofia Lukszo Professor of Smart Energy Systems and DEWIS Chair at the TU Delft Andy Dobbelsteen Professor of Climate Design & Sustainability "In 10 years, only two men have been elected Corporate Social Responsible Manager of the Year. This says something about the value of women in sustainability: their leadership is crucial to building a better world and solving the climate crisis." Read more Annabel Broer PhD Candidate Maritime Technology "I wrongly doubted that I would fit in as a non-engineer. But I discovered a welcoming, inclusive community and realised that we can all contribute to an inclusive environment." Read more Axelle Vire Professor Floating Wind Energy and Faculty Diversity Officer of the faculty Aerospace Engineering "I want to inspire many girls and women to contribute to our energy transition. That’s why I launched a crowdfunding campaign to bring books about wind energy and its diverse people to every possible school." Read more Chiara Pradel Postdoctoral Researcher Architecture and the Built Environment, Situated Architecture "As a new staff member, I am inspired by the other women in my section. They show daily support and care in a simple yet effective way, asking about each other's well-being and fostering a truly positive work environment." Read more Claudia Westhoff-Kemper Management Assistant and Coordinator of ZieSo, the TU Delft secretarial network "By supporting each other, women build a sense of solidarity that unites them in their quest for equality and justice. United, women empower each other, break down barriers and stereotypes, and inspire generations to rise and thrive." Fransje Hooimeijer Associate professor Environmental Technology & Design-Coastal Defence Systems "Diversity is the fundament for shared values and perspectives in building a healthy and purposeful future. Creating diversity in the scientific community is not only an organizational challenge, but also an opportunity for scientific innovation." Read more Karin Sluis Senior advisor at Witteveen+Bos, TU Delft alumna and chair Delft University Fund. "Do you want a more sustainable, more beautiful and more cheerful world? Then fix the system: overcome your implicit biases and give girls and women true equal chances!" Read more Marien van der Meer Vice President Operations, Executive Board "Empowering more women and girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) not only strengthens climate strategies, but also cultivates leaders who drive climate action. With their contributions, we are reshaping societies and paving the way for a sustainable future." Read more Marjan Krijns Director The Green Village at Technische Universiteit Delft "The Energy Transition can only be a just transition if the interests of women are 100% represented! This is only possible if women play a central role in the policy making and implementation." Read more Mireille Howard-Snels Senior Policy Officer and Chair Employee Resource Group DiversAbility "Medical Science should pay more attention to the differences between men and women and the symptoms they experience!" Read more Peter Palenskey Professor and head of department Electrical Sustainable Energy "The energy transition is a marathon, and we cannot run it on only one leg." Read more Poulumi Dey Assistant Professor Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) "This is a moment for all of us to come together and celebrate all female TU Delft members! Moment to celebrate our accomplishments, resilience and a moment to inspire the world and lead by example!" Read more Tim van der Hagen "Our ambitions should never be too modest, especially when it comes to our aspirations for gender equality and tackling climate change. When I say 'our', I mean you and me, our university, our country and our world." Read more Tracey Davis Learning Developer "Woman to woman we should seek to encourage, empower, and establish one another. " Read more Zofia Lukszo Professor Smart Energy Systems, DEWIS voorzitter "Cultural and behavioural changes are needed to achieve both gender equality and climate goals. In fact, both objectives are a matter of justice." Henri Werij Dean of Aerospace Engineering "Using diverse teams to tackle grand challenges, in my opinion, is the only way to go. Therefore, TU Delft must attract and foster all those talented women, both students and staff, who help us making the difference." Jovana Jovanova Assistant professor Mechanical Engineering "Adaptation is the superpower of humans, and as scientists, we can lead the way towards sustainable future bringing everyone along on this journey. The health of our planet is multidisciplinary and multicultural problem, and we can only solve it by embracing our differences as our strength."