Universiteit Leiden

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Sophia lunch meeting

15 March 2018
Admission is free, but please bring your own lunch. Men are also welcome to attend!
Kamerlingh Onnes Building
Steenschuur 25
2311 ES Leiden

Women seem to leave the universities more than men. Inge van der Weijden and Thed van Leeuwen have done research into this issue. They will contribute to the discussion of the current gender balance in science by presenting outcomes of their ongoing research. At this meeting we will also form focus groups and ask people to develop input for our upcoming meetings with Vice Rector Hester Bijl.

Gender aspects in career progression of postdocs who obtained a VENI grant

Inge van der Weijden – CWTS

Inge will present the results of a mixed method study on gender aspects in career paths of postdocs in the life sciences. She focuses on postdocs who obtained a prestigious personal (VENI) grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). These grants are directed at excellent individual researchers at the start of their career who ‘display a striking talent for scientific research’. Upon analysis of 25 interviews, four clusters or typologies of careers could be discerned:

  1. Dedicated tenured researchers with teaching tasks
  2. Dedicated tenured researchers with clinical tasks
  3. Primarily other tenured jobs in academia or healthcare with limited research tasks, or even without any remaining research tasks
  4. Postdoc hoppers, of whom currently one is unemployed

The empirical findings suggest that policies aiming for excellence, like the VENI, do not change the current gendered system and discourse of meritocracy in academia. Interestingly, in the classic cluster, the women do benefit from specific programmes for women in science (Aspasia), advancing their careers towards associate professor relatively faster than their male counterparts. However, what you ‘gain’ in strengthening the gender balance in the classic cluster, you ‘loose’ to the mixed group on the other hand. In the mixed cluster, women explained that they reduced their research effort because they aimed for a more diverse job that tapped into a wider set of skills and capacities, stating that: “research turned into a monoculture of publications and grant applications”.

Dr. Inge van der Weijden is a senior researcher at the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS). She conducts research on the motivation, selection and evaluation of scholars in order to better understand career development of scientists.

Analysis of gender distribution in Dutch oncology research

In his talk Thed will present the outcomes of the analyses of gender distribution in Dutch contributions to the field of oncology. Analyses show that, although female researchers contribute less to the total Dutch output in oncology, their contribution to the field is rapidly increasing, with some 10%, up to 27% in 2016. In terms of impact, there are no meaningful differences between male and female researchers. Female researchers in the field of oncology perform even slightly better than their male colleagues. If one maintains the claim that females do not work as hard as their male colleagues (see Hans Clever cited in Prestigious scientist says "Dutch women don't want to work hard"), one must conclude that they tend to do their work either more effectively or more efficiently since their impact levels are somewhat higher compared to their male colleagues.
More information (in Dutch).

Dr. Thed van Leeuwen is a senior researcher at the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS). He is co-leading the research theme on Open Science, and the project leader of the Open Science Monitor.