The Ambassadors’ Network is a committee set up by the Executive Board charged with advising the Executive Board on measures for promoting women to more senior positions. The network has given advice on the following subjects:
- Applications for the UT incentive fund
- Importance of a workshop on gender awareness for UMT and managerial staff
- Arranging three tenure track positions especially for women.
- Importance of gender-neutral recruitment and selection.
A second task of the network is monitoring the implementation of the policy. For this, the committee visits the faculties twice a year to discuss the issue with the deans. The name network is by analogy with the national ambassadors’ networks that consist of prominent figures from trade and industry who wish to stimulate the promotion of women to top jobs within their company.
Get to know the committee of the UT Ambassadors’ Network
Women have many qualities that need to be put to use. The UT can profit from using these talents as optimally as possible. Mine is a personal interest, too: if more women fill more senior positions, we will be able to divide the tasks more efficiently. Fortunately everybody sees the importance of participation of women in committees nowadays, but since there are so few women, I have a very busy schedule at the moment.
The amount of women in our, technically oriented, organization is far below 50%. I find this a missed opportunity and therefore the UT ambassadeursnetwerk can count on me in order to improve this situation. I believe that our organization will benefit from a balanced gender participation.
I passionately believe in equal treatment of everyone, and in all contexts, hence also in universities: it hurts when one sees people discriminated against, deliberately or maybe even more so, if it happens by accident.
Often women, minorities, those who do not shout loud enough, lobby hard enough, or do not have the right information miss out on promotion due to ignorance, habit, or culture on either side: for instance candidates are not prepared well enough and/or do not understand the ins and outs of the ‘rules’, P&O, deans and BACs approach selection in their old routine ways without realising what damage these are doing in today’s environment.
I am delighted to have been asked to be a member of the Ambassadeursnetwerk as I believe our experience and seniority helps and enables us to encourage, to judge, to make credible recommendations, to initiate real change in the attitude and behaviour of the Board, Deans, P&O, and candidates themselves - all resulting in fairer selection processes and a fairer representation of women in senior positions within the university
It is important that women are properly represented both in academic (management) positions and in other management positions. In my view, diversity promotes the desired UT organisation culture, in which - in addition to entrepreneurship - commitment and collaboration have been designated as key values.
In the ambassadors network I am very pleased to represent the non-academic staff. I am convinced that our university urgently needs talent in all jobs to maintain its position as a university, and promote itself effectively.
In many places I often still see that women do not have the right opportunities for an optimal development of their skills. Not only within our own organisation, but also abroad I often come across this situation. In particular the technical and science disciplines are strongly dominated by men. Time and again, I am surprised that, although women are well represented in the junior academic positions, we hardly see them in the more senior positions. Via the ambassador’s network I would like to make a serious attempt to change this, and to create a more balanced academic environment with equal opportunities for all in the near future.
When in 2004 I initiated the FFNT (Female Faculty Network Twente), I did not expect at all that gender issues were still hampering women’s careers - I assumed that this was an issue of my mother’s generation that had been solved in our modern age. My reasons for FFNT were much more optimistic, as was expressed in the FFNT mission statement:, namely empowering women in developing their own strength in their academic career by inspiring and helping one another by means of a network.
However, from hearing personal experiences of female faculty who have a longer experience within the scientific community, and the data of female careers that were monitored at the University of Twente, it appears that there are indeed problems.
As these problems are complicated and multi-levelled, there are no clear and easy solutions. The ambassadors network aims at creative and constructive approaches which slowly but steadily will have their effects.