In the past year, there has been much discussion of a national action plan to provide more opportunities for scientists who are women, with immigrant backgrounds or who do not fit the traditional picture. A parliamentary majority urged the minister to soften her plan. The VVD was afraid of “sponsoring racism”, and other parties also felt that keeping “lists” of race and immigration background for students and staff was overstepping the mark.
At first, Van Engelshofen was unwilling to give up: “You still surprise me now and then at how much the pursuit of diversity in this society arouses resistance,” she sighed at the parliamentary debate. Her tone is now more diplomatic, according to a new Brief It responded to the critical proposals of the House of Representatives.
It may also be a factor in the fact that university councils participate Cash I came up with plans to display the cultural diversity of employees in a “stress gauge”. The five participating universities then suspended these plans.
But whether or not they are drafted diplomatically, their positions appear unchanged. The Minister writes that recording individual personal characteristics is in fact undesirable. She says it’s important to have “factual information” about bottlenecks in science regarding equal opportunity.
This is why it commissioned the Rathenau Institute to make a preliminary measurement based on existing data, without collecting new data on the staff’s ethnic or immigration background. If this produces too little, the new cabinet can always decide on “structural control”.
It also says it gives substance to other crucial parliamentary motions, but usually only by leaving the decision up to the institutions. About the SGP’s proposal that was passed against the arrival of more diversity officers, she wrote: “It is up to the organizations themselves to decide how to shape this function.”
Additionally, she warns, all public education and research institutions must have a gender equality plan in place from next year in order to be eligible for European research funding. So they should hire people who can devise such a plan and help implement it, “like, say, the diversity officer.”
The CDA does not want the diversity of a research group to be taken into account when applying for research funding, but the Minister believes otherwise. This is already being implemented by European research funders and it may be the Dutch research funder NWO that will also take this option in the future.
Meanwhile, universities continue to work on their diversity plans. They can now use what is called “Guideline The Gender Plans are written by an advisory committee led by University of Victoria President Vinod Subramaniam.
This states, among other things, that institutions should be gender sensitive and not only for women, but also for non-binary and transgender people. In addition, educational curricula should be examined, but also, for example, wall art, presence of gender-neutral toilets and building names.