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.

21 juni 2022

Department Heads talk about gender diversity: an interview with Sabine Roeser

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 Sabine Roeser, Professor of Ethics, and head of the Department of Values, Technology and Innovation at the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management. Sabine was also a previous DEWIS board member. We need more critical bystanders to speak up. As a leader, we need to set an example by using careful language, continuously reflecting on our choice of word and also recruiting and being open to feedback from others.” Sabine Roeser What does gender equality mean to you? “It is often said that diverse teams are more effective, but this is secondary to me. Primarily, it is a matter of justice. This means creating the conditions to have a truly inclusive environment, where people feel comfortable and at home. A welcoming culture where people do not feel excluded based on their gender. This requires continues awareness, because we all have unconscious biases. How can we attract and retain more women? We are looking at the academic context, but it starts so early. I hope in the future boys can dress like princesses and girls can play with excavators. It is so important to take away the gender stereotyping in toys, books and children’s films. Gender stereotypes are continuously evoked in our educational system and in society. The scientist in a children’s program is typically not from the non-dominant group. Take a look at the teaching materials children get. What pictures do these books portray? In the past, I heard standard answers like: ‘Gender diversity will come in time. We just have to wait for the pipeline to fill.’ But we know that this does not happen by itself. We need to change the conditions. It is also often said: ‘We only look at quality.’ However, the way we define, recognize and perceive quality is coloured by prejudices and stereotypes. Because of our biases, it is never only about quality. For example, in the past many people in the Netherlands assumed that men work fulltime and women work part-time. But this is not a given and can be rearranged by organizing things differently together at a family, societal and organisational level, to share work and care tasks more equally. Also, we should not make assumptions about a person but ask them what they want. Do we need more crude measures like quota? A quota should be our last resort. The Delft Technology Fellowship was installed because specifically in engineering it is difficult to break through patterns and to attract more women. It has proven to be a great instrument for attracting excellent female academics. However, we should also try to change things at the root, by identifying and eliminating structural biases and inequalities. Can you elaborate on the phenomenon of Implicit Bias? Biases are everywhere and every day, and we are all prone to them and need to consciously work on overcoming them. Furthermore, there are phenomena like ‘Mansplaining’, where a man provides unsolicited explanations to a woman who is actually more of an expert on the subject than the man. Or ‘Hepeat’, where a man repeats the initial idea of a woman and gets the credit. These labels as well as the label #MeToo helped to explain and make visible what women were encountering regularly. What can we do? Even when we see the phenomena on a collective level, it is not so easy to deal with them on an individual level. It is often hard to prove and explain to people that their behaviour is inappropriate, discriminating or stigmatizing. This is very sensitive. Often, it is a woman bringing this to the attention and as a reaction, the woman has a problem. This is why women often choose to stay silent. I hope everybody becomes more aware of these phenomena. We need more critical bystanders to speak up. As a leader, we need to set an example by using careful language, continuously reflecting on our choice of word and also recruiting and being open to feedback from others. What more can people in leadership positions do? Leaders showing a sensitivity to these issues really helps. In addition, people in leadership positions can learn from others who are more knowledgeable about these things. For example, we organized a diversity and inclusion workshop with several internal experts from our department to talk about the different dimensions of diversity and inclusiveness. This was very inspiring. What would your ideal university look like? Let me explain with an example. In the schools of my children, they are paying a lot of attention to LGBT+ diversity. We did not have that in my time; sexual orientation was not a topic that was discussed. Also, in the past, people often felt uncomfortable by for example talking about gender diversity. I am glad that this has changed. But in the future, it would be nice if diversity will be more a given, and we will no longer take a specific gender or sexual orientation as the implicit norm. I hope that we will have truly inclusive environments where you can be yourself.

21 april 2022

An interview with Ena Voûte, Dean of IDE and Bianca van Someren-Rijneveld, HR Advisor at IDE

What can we learn from our colleagues regarding the role of women in science? In a series of interviews with Deans, Department Heads and HR advisors, we 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 talk with Ena Voûte, Dean of the faculty IDE and Bianca van Someren-Rijneveld, HR advisor at the faculty of IDE. Many small steps in the right direction bring about change. You can’t change course and create a new culture all at once, but if you build it step by step and stick with it, you’ll succeed. Ena Is there a leak in the pipeline? We looked at gender diversity figures for the faculty of IDE and found that the percentage of female professors is lower than the percentage of female students. The percentages of female full professors, associate professors and assistant professors are 31%, 40% and 54%, respectively. The percentage of female students is slightly higher than 50%. Is there a leak in the pipeline? Ena : “I thought you were going to say that we’re setting a good example as a faculty. We are moving towards a balanced pipeline. You can see that there is now a good balance between men and women at the bottom of the pipeline. We’re doing our utmost to balance the pipeline at all levels, but this takes time.” Bianca : “We are taking action on several fronts. There are now always women on the selection committees, which wasn’t always the case in the past. During recruitment and selection, it helps to consider your candidates more broadly and from different perspectives. The Selection Committee should reflect what we want for the faculty, so we also look at cultural diversity and diversity in specialisations. The same applies to other bodies, such as the Career Development Committee.” “We now also have a working group, started on 22 March, to deal with diversity and inclusion in the faculty in the broadest sense. They will identify where the bottlenecks and opportunities for improvement are. This includes accessibility for people with disabilities and gender-neutral signs in the building.” Why is gender equality so important? Ena : “Diversity ensures that you hear multiple perspectives; it prevents you from not seeing your blind spots. A diverse team can be more difficult to manage, because you might have to focus on fifteen aspects instead of five. But in the end, the result is better. In our faculty, many people like to look at things from different perspectives. That is the essence of design. We try to find a balance between the revolution of technology and the evolution of mankind. Diversity is also a lot of fun. Your view of the world becomes richer and you gain more appreciation for others and their backgrounds. We can achieve more together.” How do you ensure more gender diversity? Ena : It’s important to make the most of all the opportunities you see to improve diversity. By taking small steps over the years, the composition of your workforce changes and diversity (gender and otherwise) improves at all levels. This conversation about diversity and creating opportunities for talent has been emphasised in recent years.” Bianca : “We deliberately pay attention to talent in our R&D Cycle. Employees, both male and female, who show talent and interest are given the opportunity to thrive. We regularly discuss the succession policy in the faculty and departmental management teams. We match the roles in the organisation and the development of a field with the talents and interests of staff. We very consciously look for diverse talent. Good science and good operational management both require diversity.” Ena : “We discuss the path to professorship with those who aspire to it. This includes things that have nothing to do with academic expertise, such as organisational tasks. These tasks are educational and also fun to do. It starts with making people aware that these opportunities exist and that it makes sense to take an active role in them. TU Delft has set a target of 25% female professors by 2025. What is the ambition for your faculty? Bianca : “Targets are nice, but they are not a goal in themselves. The conversation should be about what’s best for the faculty. What does the faculty need, today and in the future, in order to perform at its best and deliver the best output? Ultimately, that’s what it’s all about.” Ena : “There is a minimum. Having only one woman in a team of men is not desirable. To make everyone feel at ease and avoid an ‘us and them’ mentality, women should make up at least 30% of a team. In addition, people need to be able to do what they’re good at and what they enjoy. A target is useful to check whether we’re on the right track. You can strive for the most complete organisation possible, and targets are part of that. There is still a lot of work to be done at TU Delft. For example, our university has only four female departmental directors. And our faculty currently has one.” How would you describe the culture in the faculty? Bianca : “The culture has changed in recent years. For example, we now openly talk about the pressure of work and mental well-being. We ask our staff if they still feel happy and comfortable in their jobs. ‘Undesirable behaviour’ is a recurring topic of discussion in the faculty management team.” Ena : “There are many people from the LGBT community working in our faculty. It is important to me that these people feel at home. I truly believe that we have a community in which a lot is possible and a culture in which a lot can be discussed.” Bianca : “The downside is that we sometimes have to have unpleasant conversations. We call this a culture of accountability, and it is developing. It’s never nice to confront people about ineffective behaviour.” Ena : “Good leadership is crucial. Observing ineffective or undesirable behaviour and making it discussable is important. The fact that we are constantly in competition with each other in science is a flaw in the system. It makes you egocentric. We need to see if this can be done differently. Behavioural change takes time, but we are seeing changes taking place.” Bianca : “For example, you notice that it is becoming more and more common to read each other’s project proposals or to ask colleagues for input for a tenure track or personal development plan. This helps create an open culture, so that we can discuss anything with each other, even when things aren’t going so well. Ena : “Many small steps in the right direction bring about change. You can’t change course and create a new culture all at once, but if you build it step by step and stick with it, you’ll succeed.”

29 maart 2022

Look back DEWIS Virtual Coffee February

Thanks to all the participants of the last DEWIS (online) Coffee Meeting in February! We had a great discussion and reflection about challenges and benefits of remote working during the Pandemic. It was nice to see that in the end, despite being a hard time for everyone we all were able to go through the challenge and grow stronger than before. We are all strong resilient women of science!! During the talk common and similar experiences and stories have been shared by the participants and here below (Figure 01) we captured some of the insights and personal stories shared. Figure 01. Personal Stories & Experiences shared by the participants during the last coffee meeting After that, we discussed and brainstormed together: ‘How can we foster a ‘Culture of Care’ within universities?’ Figure 02. Insights captured during the discussion of the last coffee meeting. In conclusion we all agreed that we need to create a network of support and being supporters for each other , always asking your peers and colleagues how they feel and offer your help. Don’t be afraid of reaching out if you need help yourself or simply need to chat with someone for some company! We are all on the same boat, we all go through difficult moments and we all need human contact to thrive and feel alive. In Figure 2 we captured some of the thoughts of the discussion. Hopefully, this has been the last Online Meeting and from next ones we can meet again in a physical space. Our first upcoming networking event will be our Spring Networking Diner! It was also the last meeting facilitated by Chiara Marradi , who unfortunately moved on in her career (now she lives and works in Belgium). However, she was grateful to be part of this network of inspiring women!

Upcoming events

15 september 2022 12:30 t/m 13:30

Delft Women’s Conversations: Sharing Experiences about academic life at Architecture

Delft Women’s Conversations: Sharing Experiences about academic life at Architecture 15 september 2022 12:30 t/m 13:30 | Zet in mijn agenda Join the DEWIS conversations about career advancement, working conditions and gender bias in academia with your fellow female scientists. When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful. Malala Yousafzai We would love to hear your experience as a female academic working at the faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment. 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. 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. Fransje Hooimeijer, Associate Professor Environmental Technology & Design at the faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, will share her story regarding gender equality and give her perspective on career advancement, working conditions and gender bias. Who : All female scientists from Architecture and the Built Environment Where : Berlagezaal l When : 15 September, 12.30 – 13.30 hrs Lunch is included Register here
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