Talent to the top

How can women gain high(er) positions at the university?

That is the central question of the workshop 'Talent to the Top', organized annually by the faculty-wide Female Talent Committee on or around March 8, International Women’s day.

Female qualities

Becoming full professor only because there is a designated chair available for women can be ungratifying. There are other, better ways. For instance, by not only looking at lists of publications – in which women are sometimes penalized for having taken maternity leave – but also by taking specific qualities into consideration. 

Even the best qualifications are still no guarantee for promotion. When applying to a full professor position, it is likely you will have ten male competitors. If you are not more than evidently the best, you are unlikely to make the cut. Full professorships are scarce. Chances would already improve if there were more part time professorships.

Special measures, such as the Jenny Gierfeld Fellowship, can shed more light on a women’s talent. A female assistant professor is thereby promoted to associate professor for a period of two years.

Bitch with status

Women have the talent to work hard and put energy in diverse tasks. But that is not always recognized as a talent. Men are often much more strategic in their efforts and know what statements to make in a meeting to be heard. Many women still believe in simply working hard as a sufficient means to make it to the top.

Women often have to fight harder and vocalize their positions more loudly to reach top positions. And they also mustn’t be afraid to be portrayed as a bitch. Elly Konijn: “If people consider me a bitch, then I prefer to be a bitch at a top position!”

Young talent to the top

The Werkgroep Vrouwelijk Talent (WVT; Female Talent Committee) has shifted its focus in the coming period to the female talent at the beginning of their career: the young talents! Due to the lack of effective means to offer talented students a PhD trajectory, the WVT offers scholarships aimed at young female talents as a path toward a successful academic career. Achieving prizes within science significantly increases later success rate (for example, the Veni-Vidi-Vici series).

In 2016, the theme of International Women's Day (8 March) was therefore young female talents. The winners of the Wilhelmina Drucker Awards (grant for young female talents) presented their research to the WVT and other interested parties. The presentations of these young talents displayed the varied research foci of female talents within FSW is: from migration crisis to financial crisis and from 'boundaries' to cyberbullying. The central topic of the day was the need to win prestigious grants. The acquisition of grants plays an increasingly prominent role nowadays, demanding of scholars to be increasingly self-sufficient. This means that obtaining grants is crucial for conducting research. The winners of the Wilhelmina Drucker Awards and the members of the WVT also used this day to provide each other with useful 'tips and tricks' to personalize, present and further improve their research.

The meeting was truly a success and very inspiring. I enjoyed all the presentation and the presence of the prize winners. All talented and motivated women who presented important research, and who provided each other with many useful and constructive comments. - Eva-Maria Merz