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.

16 March 2023

Lookback International Women’s Day 2023: #EmbraceEquity

On International Women’s Day 2023 we have had a very delightful event with music, an ‘omdenken show’ and a panel dialogue. We hope all participants had a very inspiring and entertaining afternoon. Rob Mudde, Vice-President of the TU Delft, made clear in his speech that trust, dialogue and social safety are key to equity. “Although progress has been made we do need to feel a sense of urgency”, said Pravesha Ramsundersingh, member of the Faculty Student Counsil of the faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics & Computer Science. “Small steps are not enough.” Rob: “I think in general, we should strive to become a more welcoming, less judgemental, more trusting organisation. Such a culture will foster a working environment where people feel valued, safe, and empowered.” We have passed the stage of ‘fixing the women’ and we know that next to personal development we need structural and cultural changes. However personal development stays important and not only for women but also for men, like adopting aspects of feminine leadership, as Caspar Chorus, Dean of the faculty of Industrial Design, suggested. Merel Vercammen and Dina Ivanova played exquisite music composed by great women, like Lili Boulanger. More information about Merel and Dina can be found here. The ‘omdenken’ show was an ultimate mix of theatre, cabaret and performance where we practiced looking at reality differently. For International Women's Day and beyond, let's all fully #EmbraceEquity .. We hope to see you and many more colleagues and students next year! DELFT - Women in Science Womensday DEWIS TU Delft. - FOTO GUUS SCHOONEWILLE DELFT - Women in Science Womensday DEWIS TU Delft. - FOTO GUUS SCHOONEWILLE

28 February 2023

Introducing our new Chairperson: Zofia Lukszo

In this interview, we talk to the new DEWIS Chairperson: Zofia Lukszo, Professor of Smart Energy Systems at the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management. Zofia has been a DEWIS board member for several years now and we are very grateful that she has accepted the call to be our new DEWIS Chairperson. In this interview, you can read about her vision with regard to gender equality, diversity and inclusion. What are her ideas and ambitions for TU Delft? And what is her message to the women in science at TU Delft? “The DEWIS network with a focus on gender equality at TU Delft has been contributing to creating inclusive working environments for everyone and empowerment of women already since 2006.” Zofia Lukszo What does gender equality mean to you? Gender equality means to me that all people, regardless of gender, have the same rights, responsibilities and opportunities for success. One of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) is to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. So, empowering women and girls contributes to gender equality. The UN stresses in this the noble goal of ensuring that all women have full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life. This idea is also very important for our society, including our university. If we want to achieve this goal, we all have work to do. Why does TU Delft have a women’s network? In the working environment, women encounter barriers that prevent them to have full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership. The DEWIS network with a focus on gender equality at TU Delft has been contributing to creating inclusive working environments for everyone and empowerment of women already since 2006. What is then the mission of DEWIS? Our main mission is to attract, advance and retain academic women at TU Delft. We are doing this by organising activities around three themes: 1) connecting female academics, 2) raising awareness and 3) influencing TU Delft policy. “My dream is to be the best (technical) university in the Netherlands with regard to gender diversity, equity and inclusion.” If we look at the percentage of female professors (17.7%), TU Delft is lagging behind compared to other Dutch universities*. What is going well and what can we do better? We have made a slight improvement over the last 10 years with regard to the percentage of female full professors at TU Delft. However, it is not just full professors who are important; we need to look at the distributions of genders in the pipeline as a whole. Faculties have made great improvements in attracting female talent at postdoctoral, assistant and associate levels. My impression is that we can do more to advance and retain academic women at TU Delft: i.e. look at how female academics at TU Delft can be empowered to take the next step in their careers. TU Delft has set a target of 25% female professors by 2025. Do the numbers matter if we look at diversity? In this sense, are you in favour of a quota or a preference policy like in Eindhoven? I am against targets and numbers to a certain extent. Talking about targets does not help the cultural change we need in order to achieve gender equality. My dream is to be the best (technical) university in the Netherlands with regard to gender diversity, equity and inclusion. If we want to be the best, with regard to gender equality, and if we want to be an example to other universities, we need to set an ambitious target, something like 27% by 2025. If we all think gender equality is important, we will get there. Do men and women who have the ambition to pursue an academic career and start a family have the same opportunities? What is needed to create equity when it comes to starting a family and pursuing an academic career? This is a difficult question to answer for a Professor of Smart Energy Systems [joke]. I can only give my opinion and my observations. Very often, women and men start an academic career at an age that they also want to start a family. This is a fact of life. We need to incorporate these facts of life, for men and women, in our academic working conditions: in the duration of projects, in flexible working hours, in the support of peers and colleagues. My advice to men and women is: only you and your partner can decide when to start a family. Be strong in this decision. Do not listen to suggestions that becoming a parent during a PhD project, for example, is not recommended. The employer should take appropriate measures and support parents. Sometimes women are asked to do more teaching and ‘household’ tasks in the team; tasks that do not contribute to the research performance. Or women are sometimes seen as ‘fire fighters’ who care for people in the team. Do we need a revolution to change these stereotyping thoughts or is there another way? I think we are at a stage that we do not need a revolution, but change is needed. Cultural change. We give each other comments and constructive feedback on research topics, but we almost never do this in relation to ethical behaviour and/or gender equity. We need to start this conversation together. A good leader puts these topics on the agenda. Do you recommend that women take training courses on how to survive academic culture better, i.e. how to become better negotiators, how to say ‘NO’ or how to be more visible? If we want gender equity, men and women need to reflect on their own behaviour and say no to traditional stereotyping role patterns. This is part of the cultural change: changing the social norms that we have been used to for so many years. Female empowerment is an extremely important goal for DEWIS the coming years. We organise workshops, networking events and training courses for women. In addition, we are working together with our sounding board on how we can involve men into our activities. Gender bias is in our DNA. How do we change the DNA so that men and women have the same opportunities? We have heard cases where biases have influenced important career decisions. During the Diversity and Inclusion Week last October, DEWIS organised the theatre play: ‘Danger, Implicit Bias at Work!’. It was very clear by observing the audience that gender bias plays a big role at TU Delft. We should continue these types of activities, create greater awareness and start having these conversations. Put these conversations about preconceptions or social norms on the table. Another practical recommendation is to have an observer in the ‘benoemingsadviescommissies’ (appointment advisory committees, BACs), so we are checking and double-checking the procedures on biases. Finally, yet importantly, we should all keep our ears and eyes open and address biases in our own surroundings. How do you see the role of management? The role of management is extremely important. If we want to be the best university with excellent research and education, we should include into the conversations diversity, inclusion and equity and take concrete actions for the needed cultural change. I suggest we organise a TU Delft Talk show with the Executive Board and start this conversation! What can you advise young female scientists? What is the most important lesson you have learned being a woman in science? Firstly, enjoy your work. Secondly, the glass ceiling does not exist. If you encounter barriers, try to eliminate them, with the help of your colleagues or with groups such as DEWIS. Lastly, never give up, press ahead, and enjoy. We can all make the world a better place: believe it! As the new Chairperson, what ambitions do you have for DEWIS? I will retire in a few years’ time. I hope by then that TU Delft has make diversity, equity and inclusion one of its top priorities. And as a result, we will have full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making for all genders. I am an optimist, so I believe we will get there! What does your ideal university look like? In an ideal university, the decision-making positions are equally distributed between men and women; everybody has the same opportunities and possibilities to grow in their careers and the working atmosphere is very pleasant, for everybody.

19 December 2022

Department Heads talk about gender diversity: an interview with Michiel Kreutzer

What can we learn from our colleagues regarding the role of women in science? In a series of interviews our Department Heads share their views on gender diversity, equality and inclusion. What are their thoughts, ideas and actions on creating diverse and inclusive working environments? Today we are talking to Professor Michiel Kreutzer, head of the Department of Architectural Engineering & Technology at the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment. “When people choose to have a family and therefore take on caring responsibilities, the university should take that into account in the career structure. … Female and male role models are also very important in this respect, i.e. women who balance having children with their careers, as well as men who also take on parenting roles at home. But again, it is not only the institution which has a responsibility here, but also society as a whole.” Michiel Kreutzer How would you describe the gender balance in your department? At the Faculty of Architecture, diversity is not exclusively a gender issue. Within the Department of Architectural Engineering and Technology, about half of the professors are women. Fortunately, I am rarely on teams where women are underrepresented, but the academic sector is still predominantly white. That worries me. For example, I don't see many students from Rotterdam South on campus. What does gender equality mean to you? Our approach is double: from equity and from diversity comes better science. Conventional thinking about science has changed quite a lot. Thanks to Thomas Kuhn, we understand that debate and discussion are indispensable for good science. People like Bruno Latour have made us realise that who does the research is a partial determinant of the scientific outcome. Surely this understanding is different from the pre-war idea of falsification, that science asymptotically unlocks an objective truth, regardless of who does it. For a long time now, biologists have departed from merely being detached scientists who observe an organism – rather, we create the organism. What those organisms do comes from the mind of the scientist, who forms ideas in discussion and debate. This is a somewhat long philosophical introduction, the point being that a diversity of ideas and perspectives is important for science. Research has shown that diverse teams are more creative, as well as more innovative. It is important that the people with whom we build on ideas through discussion and discourse have different backgrounds and perspectives. In addition, the argument for equality is just as important. It is simply not fair if people are given fewer opportunities because of appearance, orientation etc. Such discrimination goes against our sense of justice and should be addressed head-on. Unconscious bias is human, but it can be unlearned to some extent, and we are taking steps to do so. The tricky thing about the fairness argument is that it can be flipped so easily: 'I don't get a chance because you discriminate.' The discussion always has winners and losers. Our approach – that diversity within a department makes for better scientists – suffers less from this accusatory atmosphere. As department chair, I try to play as few 'zero-sum’, ‘winners-and-losers' games as possible on this topic. By all of us being and behaving differently, we all become better scientists, and we all win. Are you aware of the manifestations of the gender biases we all have? How do you recognise bias? What are the consequences of gender bias? I am a white male from a family of academics. That is my background. I feel at home with people from the same background. I am aware of that. Paying attention and occasionally giving myself a little push helps me make sure that I don't surround myself with my reflection. We must overcome the unconscious biases we all have. Of course we pay extra attention to those biases during the big moments, for instance job applications. But we must also consider the thousands of unconscious pressures which people from different backgrounds receive and accumulate over the years, thereby depriving people in minority groups of equal opportunities. It’s certainly not fair, and it’s important to acknowledge that this daily reality for many also makes for a less enjoyable workplace, as well as a lesser university. Let's help each other and discuss without accusation: seek dialogue, let people have their dignity. A classic method of communication is to give precise, respectful feedback: 'You show this behaviour and that evokes this response from me.' I regularly have to engage with people from different backgrounds and I try to look at them with an open mind. When I’m able to do this, my work becomes a lot more enjoyable. For me, a university is a place where people develop and grow. I like it when people evolve. And that is only possible in a safe environment where you are challenged and can be yourself – in other words, an inclusive environment. How would you describe a healthy work-life balance? Is this something personal, or does the institution have a responsibility? Academic careers are very competitive, especially when scarce resources are distributed competitively. Recognition and success are quite dependent on access to those scarce resources. Our whole society has moved in towards individual accountability for success and failure. We see with increasing clarity that this shift creates more pressure than we actually think is healthy, and with the nationwide ‘Recognition and Rewards’ initiative, there is now a concrete action plan to address this. That is one positive step. The university is a place where hard work pays off. We have to accept that almost everyone has a period in life when all that hard work is a little less successful. We shouldn't be too rigid about that. I think it is important that people do not fall out of the loop of their academic careers for lengthy periods. When people choose to have a family and therefore take on caring responsibilities, the university should take that into account in the career structure. Some years will be less productive than others – we must make room for that. Female and male role models are also very important in this respect, i.e. women who balance having children with their careers, as well as men who also take on parenting roles at home. But again, it is not only the institution which has a responsibility here, but also society as a whole. Sadly, female labour participation is low in the Netherlands, and there are norms and values that the institution cannot reverse on its own. We can however set a good example, especially for our students in their formative years. How do you incorporate inclusion and diversity in teaching and research? Inclusion and diversity in teaching is important at the Faculty of Architecture. Bias is not directly relevant in solving a mathematical sum, but your background plays a role in your perception of the built environment. STYLOS , T/U Delft’s student association of the Faculty of Architecture, has drawn attention to this in a nice way. Members of the association pasted posters – I’ll call them ‘provocative’ posters – of white men on the wall with questions such as, 'What’s wrong with this row of famous architects?' Students rightly call attention to this issue. What does your ideal department look like? I am wary of entrenched one-to-one relationships. Many problems are solved when these power relationships – where one person depends on one other person – are avoided. Power relationships should become more diffuse by allowing more people to be more involved in the process of granting promotions and other advancements. The more these kinds of discussions can be held openly in a team, or in a department section if necessary, the safer it becomes. I think that is paramount.

Upcoming events

29 March 2023 12:45 till 14:00

Delft Women’s Conversations: Sharing Experiences about academic life at Applied Sciences (AS)

Delft Women’s Conversations: Sharing Experiences about academic life at Applied Sciences (AS) 29 March 2023 12:45 till 14:00 - Location: 58 Applied Sciences, Kronigzaal | Add to my calendar When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful. Malala Yousafzai Join the DEWIS Round Table conversations about career advancement, working conditions and gender bias in academia with your fellow female scientists. This meeting is part of a series of meetings that DEWIS is organizing at every faculty. Read the notes of the pilot meeting at the faculty of Architecture . After Civil Engineering and Geosciences and Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering (3mE), the faculty of Applied Sciences is the fourth faculty. Event information Who: All female scientists from Applied Sciences (AS) Where: 58 Applied Sciences, A2.010 Kronigzaal When: 29 March, 12:45 - 14:00 Lunch is included Register here Even though progress has been made, women in leading positions are still underrepresented in academia. Our aim is to create awareness about the mechanisms regarding gender inequalities and imbalances; we believe in the power of collective voices and want to see how the sharing of experiences and observations can benefit our understanding. We would love to hear your experience as a female academic working at the faculty of Applied Sciences. What can we learn from your experience? How can we use your experience for better policymaking? We want to encourage women to speak their mind to foster conversation in benefit of equal opportunities and an inclusive and safe environment. We will also invite a colleague to share her story regarding gender equality and give her perspective on career advancement, working conditions and gender bias. Register now! Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
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