Interview of the Month: Delft Women in Science DeWiS (12/2017)

Every month, for you, EPWS presents the characteristics and activities of one Member Association.

Read all the previous Interviews with our Members here

Our member for December is the Dutch association Delft Women in Science (DeWiS) Network.


For DeWiS, Astrid Taal, coordinator of Delft Women in Science at Delft University of Technology, has accepted to answer the EPWS questionnaire.

Contact this association:
Contact this member:
Association website:


EPWS: If you wanted to describe your association in one sentence, what would you say?
DeWiS is the women’s network of Delft University of Technology, committed to gender awareness and gender equality.

EPWS: What are the objectives of your association?
DeWiS supports females within the TU Delft with their academic careers by striving for equality between men and women. DeWiS hopes to achieve this by providing support and advise to female scientists; by connecting female associate professors and full professors; by providing trainings and workshops for female scientists, from PhD students to full professors. And secondly DeWiS wants to contribute to creating awareness on gender issues such as discrimination, (implicit) biases and stereotyping by organising activities such as faculty lunch meetings and an annual symposium. DeWiS also helps to formulate gender diversity (awareness) policy for the Deans, the Executive Board and the HR department by providing advice and unsolicited advice.

EPWS: What is the history of DeWiS, in a few words?
In 2006, the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) signed a charter of the ‘Talent to the Top’ Taskforce. Through the charter the Taskforce aims to increase the recruitment, mobility and retention of female talent in leading positions. Within the framework of the charter, TU Delft has commissioned in-depth research on gender diversity at TU Delft, which has led to the establishment of the Delft Women in Science network.

EPWS: Could you explain the organization of your association?
The network provides a platform for every TU Delft staff member who is interested in gender and diversity-conscious policy. All female scientists are automatically a member of DeWiS. Besides this, DeWiS has a board of 6 female professors and an advisory board of 11 female professors, all from different faculties.

EPWS: What are its recent achievements?
DeWiS organized an awareness workshop for the Department Chairs, the Deans and the Executive Board of the TU Delft. The workshop was received well and follow-up actions and agreements to improve gender balance are made with the Deans of the faculties.
DeWiS organises lunch meetings at every faculty of the university. We have been to five faculties and we discuss the gender policy at the faculty and topics related to gender equality that are play a role at the moment. The Dean and several male and female researchers lead the debate with a panel discussion. The meetings are well attended, also by males.
Five young scientists at the TU Delft started a petition in which a national policy is requested that extends the evaluation period and the appointment of the tenure track with the time spent on pregnancy and parenthood leave. The petition signed by scientists from all over The Netherlands, was presented to the Minister of OC&W (Education, Culture and Science) during last year’s VSNU (Association of universities in the Netherlands) Gender Seminar. Given the constraints on temporary employment relationships in the law and the collective labor agreement (cao) of the Dutch universities (cao NU), TU Delft has now developed a solution for this. As a result, Tenure Trackers’ appointment periods will take into account circumstances such as getting children and parental leave for both women and men. From 1 August 2017, a provision was entered in the appointment terms which may lead to an extended appointment period, up to 8 years.

EPWS: What is your agenda for the coming months?
A meeting with the board of DeWiS and the Management Team of the faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences will take place. The faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences is a typically male dominated faculty. We will discuss gender (awareness) policy at the faculty. This faculty has implemented a gender boost policy by collecting the Dutch Aspasia fundings designed for gender diversity and contributing in a meaningful way to the careers of high potential female academics. At this meeting we will check how this gender boost is working and we will also look at the agreements made in the past, the obstacles within the faculty, and make new agreements for the future.
We will organise a networking lunch meeting at the faculty of Technology, Policy and Management. Female professors within the faculty will organise a debate on gender related issues in collaboration with DeWiS.

EPWS: Are you collaborating with other EPWS members?
Yes, we collaborate with the LNVH (Dutch Network of Women Professors, an EPWS full member). The LNVH visits TU Delft annually and we discuss gender diversity, gender equality and balance at the TU Delft. We discuss subjects such as the tenure-track policy and the pay-gap. The LNVH has now started a national investigation into the pay-gap and the TU Delft is participating.

EPWS: What do you expect from EPWS? In what ways can it help you develop your action?
Despite a number of initiatives and interventions, progress in the Netherlands and at the TU Delft is quite slow. Exchanging knowledge and sharing best practices with other networks is a key issue. Also, the EPWS members could offer useful insight on the effects of certain policies at the actual workplace, from a women’s network’s point of view.



DeWiS website:
DeWiS is on twitter, check: @DEWIS_TUDelft ,
TU Delft Feminists Facebook page
Dutch Network of Women Professors (LNVH) website:
The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) explains all about its gender and diversity policy at:
The Association of universities in the Netherlands has marked gender as a focus area, see:
European Institute for Gender Equality:
GARCIA Project (and related projects):


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