Diversity Officer for EEMCS
For me, books are a way to detach myself from the world around me, and to immerse myself in another reality, to study other people. Recently I was, for example, totally absorbed by a Russian book called “Zuleikha Opens her Eyes”. The story struck me because it showed that whatever happens, it is always the way characters react to their environment that defines change. It reaffirmed why I find it so important that people can be themselves: it is a condition for change.
That is why I personally think it is short-sighted to consider integrity as something you must simply ‘do’. Of course, individual actions play a big part in creating an integral workspace – but you must first be able to be yourself. Integrity is not only a responsibility, but also a right. It all comes down to honesty, to yourself and to others. Integrity means showing yourself as you really are. And so if you cannot be yourself, you can never truly and fully act with integrity.
Integrity is not only a responsibility, but also a right.
Actually, I only started to immerse myself in inclusivity and diversity during my PhD. To be frank, it was just not on my personal radar in Romania, where I am from. There, it is completely normal for women to study mathematics, all the way to a PhD. It was only when I arrived here in the Netherlands that I heard things such as “advanced mathematics is too hard for women”. That was not here at a university, but unfortunately it was mentioned to primary and high schools students.
Obviously I do not want to suggest that it is all going wrong in the Netherlands, let alone here at Delft. It is great to see that there is little to no gap between the different layers of the university, for example between teachers and students. Here you can address others when mistakes are made. That is essential for creating an inclusive and safe environment. Especially people with responsibility should work on integrity, by constantly addressing it. Perhaps we have focussed too much on victims in the past, by looking at how we can help their situation. That is great, don’t get me wrong, but it is just as important that people with responsibility act with full integrity and immediately react to any wrongdoing.
If I am completely honest, I think that the changes that the university will go through are inevitable. TU Delft will become much more diverse and inclusive in the future, that is a given. But that transformation should be as smooth as possible, that is what I strive for.