The TU/e Department of Applied Physics has won the Diversity Prize 2020 offered by the Netherlands Physical Society (NNV). Thus, in the eyes of the association, the department is the physics institution most successfully applying an open diversity policy. “Not enough women candidates? In physics that is bullshit,” says Dean Gerrit Kroesen.
A broad-based and “impressive cultural turnabout” is what the Eindhoven department has managed to achieve, believes the NNV, and in the space of just one to two years. During the selection process, the jury considered the diversity policy being pursued at institutions, original initiatives and, last but not least, concrete evidence of the policy’s success.
Two years ago, the Department of Applied Physics, let it be noted, was already in the race for the prize, tells Dean Gerrit Kroesen, but could only watch as the University of Groningen took home the honors. “And deservedly so,” says Kroesen, “Back then, Groningen was leading the way.”
Since then, he believes, the department has shown not only that it has ambitious plans, but that it is capable of achieving them. There was just one woman among the (roughly sixty-strong) academic staff at Applied Physics eight years ago, the Dean explains. “Now there are about fifteen. Most of them have been hired in the last couple of years.”
PROACTIVE AND PERSONAL
This growth, he says, is mainly the result of the Department’s targeted, proactive and personal approach to women. “It is a familiar phrase: make a list of five criteria, a woman meets three of them and will not apply. While a man who meets two of the criteria thinks ‘no problem’. We wanted to remove this barrier for women.”