In 2017, the Academy will select a total of 16 top women scientists and scholars for membership in two extra election rounds. This decision signals the Academy’s wish to see more women in key positions in Dutch research and academia.
The Academy’s initiative has been inspired by next year’s celebrations marking the 100th anniversary (on 10 February 2017) of Johanna Westerdijk’s inaugural address as professor at Utrecht University. Westerdijk, a plant pathologist and former director of the Academy’s Fungal Biodiversity Centre, was the first woman in the Netherlands to be appointed a university professor.
The Academy has 556 members at present, 13% of them female. Among Academy members below the age of 65, 24% are female, a slightly more favourable figure than the national average of female professors at 17.1%.
The Academy intends the extra election rounds to make up for lost ground. It is also hoping for a flywheel effect: increasing the number of women members makes it more likely that outstanding female researchers will be noticed and nominated.