May TU/e favour women or not?

The TU/e wants 30% of their staff to be women by no later than 2025. Photo credit: Pixabay

In June last year, it came to light that the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) intended to open all academic staff vacancies to only women.

Now, the Dutch Board of Human Rights has said this is in contravention to Dutch equal treatment legislation. According to the Board, positions should be open to women and men. Only if both are equally suitable for the job, a woman should be preferred.

A Board decision’s not binding, although it’s often followed. TU/e Rector, Frank Baaijens indicates that the TU/e’s taking the decision seriously. It will ‘carefully study’ the guideline towards quotas – the minimum number of women who must be employed.


According to Baaijens, the measure did have a positive effect. “We recruited about a hundred scientists over a year. Half of whom are women,” he said on the Radio 1 news. He calls this ‘very well-balanced’.

However, according to Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven, the university can ‘calmly go ahead’ with its policy. One of Van Engelshoven’s portfolios is that of Emancipation. She says the university shouldn’t see the Human Rights Board’s warning as an obstacle.

The minister concludes from the Board’s statement that TU/e may show preference to women. The university ‘should just have done so a little less broadly’. According to Van Engelshoven, the Board leaves room for, for example, a women’s quota, in the advice.

‘Diversity’s a good thing’

“In my opinion, the TU/e can continue to promote more diversity in science. Because that’s a good thing. They must just do so with a sensible policy adjustment,” says the minister.

Rector Baaijens adds, “We appreciate that the Board gave clear indications on what type of measures we can consider to reach a better gender balance. We will study the findings, as well as their recommendations, to determine our next steps.” But, the TU/e remains committed to gender equality.

“Our commitment to this fundamental cause is unchanged”, says TU/e President, Robert-Jan Smits. “Our overall aim remains unaltered – we want to reach a 30% female faculty within five years. Because, at that percentage, a minority stops being a minority. (The group then) has the position and influence it deserves.”

Source: OmroepBrabant and TU/e

Translator: Melinda Walraven

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