In 2030 moet minimaal 40 procent van alle hoogleraren in elke faculteit vrouw zijn, foto DUB (dies UU 2017)

Majority University Council wants women’s quota for UU


By 2030, at least 40 percent of all employees in all university positions should be women. Women should make up at least a third of all boards. To accomplish this, Utrecht University has to establish a women’s quota, starting in 2021. 22 of the 24 University Council members support this plan.

Read in Dutch

A quota, the University Council members write, should be an element of the university policy that aims to create a more diverse and inclusive university. It’s a goal Utrecht University has been working on for years. A gender quota, the council members say, helps to make great leaps in a relatively short time in terms of representation, gender equality in high-level positions, and better career development. “In a short time, a quota will rectify the unjust situation, but it’s also a way to permanently change the status quo (and with it, the culture) within the academic community,” the memo says.

The memo was submitted to the university board on behalf of the parties UUinActie, de Utrechtse Promovendi Partij, Vlam, Vuur, and the PvdUs. Party De Vrije Student, which is known to be principally against means like quota to achieve diversity, did not sign the memo. The five parties ask the Executive Board to establish an advisory committee that will, in the upcoming months, define how the quota can be achieved. The policy should then go into effect by January 2021.

Boards, scientific staff, support staff
The council members are talking about a gender quota that focuses on the position of women within the university.

Regarding boards, the University Council members want to ensure that the university board’s ambition of having all boards consist of at least 1/3 women becomes a binding agreement. With regards to scientific staff, the quota will ensure that in all scientific job categories (from PhD to professor), in every faculty, at least 40 percent of staff are women.

In 2019, the UU achieved its goal of having 27 percent female professors and 36 percent female senior lecturers. Still, the University Councils say this isn’t enough, because the ratios differ widely per faculty. At the faculty of Social Science, for example, 44.3 percent of all professors are women, and at the faculty of Geosciences, only 16.5 percent are women. The percentages in other scientific positions vary greatly between the faculties as well. For that reason, the council members state that the quota should be established per faculty.

Target figures


2015 (baseline)



2020 (target)

Female professors





Female senior lecturers





Percentage of women per faculty

% women


Senior Lecturer

Assistant professor

PhD candidate






Veterinary Medicine




















Social Sciences






(Table data taken from the memo)

The quota will also apply to support staff, even if the male to female ratio for support staff at the university is more balanced than amongst the scientific staff. Here, too, there are differences between the departments. And when looking at the levels of positions, the University Council members write, a more ‘traditional’ distribution becomes clear. That means that the majority of secretaries, for instance, are women. As there are certain positions that are overwhelmingly held by women already, the focus for support staff should be more on an improved balance, and equal representation in positions.

The call for a women’s quota isn’t new, but the call for a quota has never been this widely supported within the University Council before, nor so elaborately substantiated by (inter)national scientific research, UU scientists from (among others) Gender Studies, experiences from the UU taskforce Diversity & Inclusion, and the Women’s Network.

The authors of the memo clarify that of all the Dutch universities, the UU is doing all right in aspects such as the number of female professors, but the speed at which it achieves a more gender-diverse university has to go up. The aim is to ensure that each position has an equal number of men and women, but the current rate at which this is being done means this won’t be achieved until 2042. Achieving 40 percent by 2030 by means of a quota will expedite an equal distribution at the UU, the University Council members say.

If the policy goes into effect in 2021, that will mean that an evaluation will be scheduled at a faculty and department level in 2025. If the evaluation shows it’s not going fast enough, a sanction will be applied. This will mean that for new vacancies, only women may be hired. Men will only be eligible for applying if after six months of recruiting, no eligible woman has been found.

The memo (PDF in Dutch and English) will be discussed in the public meeting of the University Council Committee Finances, Staff and IT, on June 15, 2020. The meeting can be attended via Teams.


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