Wageningen Microbiology Centennial – a very male celebration

Wageningen University, in my home country of the Netherlands, will be holding a 2.5-day symposium in October 2017 to celebrate 100 years of microbiology research at this institute, called Microbiology Centennial. At first glance, the program looked great; many talks about microbial ecology, microbial physiology and bacterial genetics.

But alas, the list of keynote speakers is very low-diversity. All 10 keynote speakers are men.

  1. 029ded60-4bf6-43a0-8ecf-882f52167d67_microbiology_849fee03_183x196Jan Roelof van der Meer
  2. Mark van Loosdrecht
  3. Hauke Harms
  4. Bernhard Schink
  5. Thijs J. G. Ettema
  6. Mike Jetten
  7. Hauke Smidt
  8. Alfons J.M. Stams
  9. John van der Oost
  10. Willem M. de Vos

In addition, there are opening remarks by Alex Zehnder.

That is 11 men. No women.

The program states:

“The keynote lectures include eminent scientists (see below) who have been interacting with the Laboratory of Microbiology throughout the years. The program also features the present research group leaders of the Laboratory of Microbiology as well as the present and past chair who all have contributed to the success of the last decades. “

I guess no women have contributed to the success of the Laboratory of Microbiology in the last decades. Thanks ladies for all your hard work. Now move over, please, so that the guys can present your fantastic research!

Sadly, this lack of women in academic positions or keynote lecturers is not unique for my home country. The Netherlands, a country that likes to think its very modern, is lacking in the participation of women in science. Less than 20% of professors at Dutch Universities are women. According to this article at Times Higher Education:

“Wageningen University, one of the country’s top-ranked universities in 2016-17, has significantly improved its gender diversity in recent years, although just 12 per cent of its professors were women in 2016, the report says.”

A recent report entitled “Monitor Women Professors 2016” published by the Dutch Network of Women Professors, stated that women account for 43% of PhD students and 39% of University Lecturers, but only 18% of professors. The report states:

“not only do female academics earn less, they are also systematically awarded lower job levels”….“There is a ruthlessly thick glass ceiling between job levels,” it adds, saying the barrier stopping women progressing from a grade 1 professor to a grade 2 professor is “sky-high”.

 

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