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Female full professors in the Netherlands: differences between research areas

Norel, N.D. van (2013) Female full professors in the Netherlands: differences between research areas.

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Abstract:In the Dutch academic world, the low amount of women in top positions is an issue that has received much attention in the past few years. Yet, despite of all the measures that have been taken by Dutch universities, the share of female full professors is still relatively low in this country compared to other European countries. Moreover, in the Netherlands there exist large differences between the research areas when it comes to the share of female full professors. In the Alpha area, also known as the humanities, we find the highest share of female full professors, namely 23 per cent in 2011. The Gamma area, also known as the social sciences, follows with 16 per cent female full professors in 2011. Lastly, the Beta area, also known as the natural sciences, shows the lowest share of female full professors, with 9 per cent female full professors in 2011 (VSNU, 2012). In this research, we tested explanations for the differences between research areas in the share of female full professors. More specifically, we examined whether factors that contribute to the success or failure of women reaching top positions in general, could also account for the differences between Dutch research areas in the share of female full professors. We expected that the differences could on the one hand be explained by factors caused by women themselves, individual factors, and on the other hand by factors caused by the research areas, organisational factors. We subdivided the dichotomy of individual and organisational factors into four factors. First, individual factors can be related to restrictions female academics face. The individual factors related to restrictions we examined were human capital, social capital and masculinity. Second, individual factors can also be related to the preferences of female academics. The individual factor related to preferences we examined was ambition. Third, organisational factors can also be related to restrictions research areas face. The organisational factor related to restrictions we examined was the composition of the research area. Lastly, organisational factors can be related to preferences of research areas. The organisational factor related to preferences we examined was the supportive work environment. We answered the following research question: To what extent can differences between Dutch research areas in the share of female full professors be explained by individual and organisational factors? In order to answer our research question, we analysed secondary quantitative data on Dutch female academics (collected by Brouns, Bosman & Van Lamoen, 2004; Need, Visser & Fischer, 2001; Sanders, Willemsen & Millar, 2009; VSNU, 2000-2012; Willemsen & Sanders, 2007). In our analysis we included data on female full professors, associate professors, assistant professors and PhD students. We performed statistical analyses in order to find out whether female academics from different research areas differ in human capital, social capital, masculinity and ambition. Furthermore, we examined whether research areas differ in composition and the extent to which the work environment is supportive. With regard to the results, in the first place we found that female academics from the Alpha area have a higher level of ambition that women from the other research areas. In the second place, the data showed that the share of potential women is higher in research areas with a relative high share of female full professors. We propose that ambition, an individual factor related to preferences, is the primary factor that explains the differences between Dutch research areas in the share of female full professors.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:88 social and public administration
Programme:Public Administration MSc (60020)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/63659
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