Still glass ceiling in the academic world

It is harder for women than for men to build a career at a university. The proportion of women professors is rising steadily but the glass ceiling has not disappeared, according to the new Women Professors Monitor. The step from assistant professor (UD) to associate professor (UHD) is particularly large, according to the calculations.

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At the end of September, HOP reported that the proportion of women professors had exceeded 25 percent for the first time – a milestone. The new monitor of the Dutch Network of Women Professors confirms that.

But the monitor also looks at the intermediate steps: do women get an equal number of opportunities on the career ladder compared to men? For that purpose the authors use what is known as the glass ceiling index – the ratio between the number of women in two adjacent job groups.


The step from doctoral candidate to assistant professor – generally via postdoc positions – is equally difficult (or easy) for men and women. So there is no glass ceiling there. But there is in the subsequent positions.

In particular, the threshold between assistant professor and associate professor is higher for women than for men. And men generally also have the advantage in the progression to professorship, according to the index.

A striking fact is that, on average, women professors have a contract for more hours than their male counterparts: 0.87 versus 0.84 FTE: over one hour more. In the positions underneath the opposite is the case.

Women more often have a temporary contract, especially as assistant professor: 31.6 percent of the women have a termination date in the UD contract, as opposed to 26.8 percent of the men.

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