Eindhoven University of Technology: TU/e resumes preferential policy for hiring female scientists

On May 1, 2021, TU/e will resume the Irène Curie Fellowship (ICF) program in a modified form. The adjustments to the program leave the goal intact: at least 30% female researchers among the permanent academic staff by 2024. For each job group (assistant professor, associate professor or full professor) and each department, individual decisions will now be made on whether a vacancy becomes part of the ICF program.

The ICF program began in the summer of 2019. By opening up academic jobs exclusively to female applicants for six months, the aim was to achieve a greater balance between men and women in academic positions. The measure was met with widespread support and criticism. In May 2020, the program was halted because of a ruling by The Netherlands Institute for Human Rights (Het College voor de Rechten van de Mens, CRM). It ruled that TU/e’s approach of opening up jobs exclusively to women was not proportional.

Since the start of the ICF program, 57 women have been hired as permanent academic staff at TU/e: four full professors, two associate professors and 51 assistant professors. In addition, 63 men were hired. This means that the growth in the number of women in academic positions at TU/e has doubled – an unprecedented success.

As of May 1, the ICF program will resume. The new format has been submitted to the CRM for consultation. The goal of having women make up at least 30% of academic staff by 2024 is unchanged. The CRM has not only endorsed the new approach but also provides room for customization in job groups in which the number of female academics is falling too far behind.

Robert-Jan Smits, President of the TU/e Executive Board, is positive about the relaunch. “Thanks to the ICF, the male-female ratio when filling academic vacancies has almost been evened over the past two years. We are determined to continue with this until we have achieved our objective.” TU/e Rector Frank Baaijens sees how the program helps to attract talent from all over the world: “The Irène Curie Fellowship program provides more equal opportunities for women when starting academic careers. Science and education thrive on talent, and equity is a prerequisite when it comes to recruiting the best talent.”

30-50% of permanent academic jobs will be offered within the ICF program. For each position that becomes vacant, the existing male-female ratio will be taken into account. If the percentage of women in the relevant segment is less than 35%, the vacancy will be considered for inclusion in the Irène Curie Fellowship program. The program will run until at least 2024 and will be evaluated annually.

Fellows within the ICF program can look forward to an additional research budget of 100,000 euros. As of May 1, vacancies within the ICF program will be published online: www.tue.nl/irenecurie

The Irène Curie Fellowship program will start again on May 1, in a modified form. The goal of the recruitment program for talented female scientists remains unchanged: in 2024, thirty percent of the scientific staff should be women.

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