Quota for female professors in Germany

Nieuws | de redactie
16 september 2011 | The government of North Rhine-Westphalia announces concrete steps to promote more women into professorships via a quota. Former Maastricht University president Jo Ritzen put this on the Dutch agenda at his farewell in an interview with ScienceGuide.

Germany’s biggest state, population and economy wise, mayexperience a significant rise in female professors in the nearfuture. The social democrat-green government of NorthRhine-Westphalia (NRW) wants to introduce a quota for women holdingprofessorships.

This quota should be flexible from department to departmentdepending on the share of women eligible for teaching. Furthermorethe share of PhD aspirants ought to be in relation to the number ofstudents, male and female.

Too few female professors a “waste ofopportunity”

Hannelore Kraft (Social Democrats), Ministerpräsident of thestate, promised more funding to universities that would reach suchratios. Her goal is to boost the share of female professors in NRW,which remained at a low 16,6% in 2008, while Germany on averagefeatured 17,4% female professors.

In the light of this initiative Svenja Schulze, Higher EducationMinister in NRW, commented that “at the current pace ofdevelopments, it would take another half a century to reach somebalanced figure. This is a waste of opportunities and talent thatwe can no longer accept.”

Pioneering with quota

Already now, universities can profit from appointing femaleprofessors as the NRW government put in place funds that pay out€30.000 to universities for every extra woman professor promoted.On a broader level, the NRW government committed to increase theshare of women holding executive positions to 40%.

NRW in this sense pioneers in efforts to lift more women intohigher positions in business and academia. Such an approach wasalso support by Jo Ritzen, former Maastricht Universitypresident.

In his farewell interview, former education minister andWorld Bank vice-president Ritzen underlined that the only ‘defeat’in his policies had been the fact that he did not manage tosignificantly increase the ratio of female to male professors. Asregular and voluntary means were obviously not really effective, hehad been convinced ‘willy nilly’ that quota were the last resort ofreal progress.

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