One issue, two people and a three-minute conversation - a concept proving you don’t need hours to get to the things that really matter. Three brief discussions about propositions on diversity at Leiden University.
Cora de Olde
Diversity adviser for the Fire Brigade
Coordinator of Studies for the Bachelor's in Computer Science & Economics at Leiden University
Leiden University will naturally grow more diverse over the years, so we don’t need a special diversity policy
I think the influx of students will get more diverse, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the staff will too. If you don’t have a diversity policy and don’t take into account that you might be implicitly biased, the staff will remain the same, while the student population is changing. So yes, I do think we need a diversity policy. Especially for hiring a diverse staff.
I agree, except I think the policy should also focus on the influx of students. I remember that almost twenty years ago we thought the lack of women in computer sciences would be an easy issue to solve. But now, twenty years later, almost nothing has changed. It is shocking really.
I think girls are encouraged more these days to follow science courses in high school, but then they don’t choose a science study like computer sciences because there are almost no female teachers or role models. So the university should focus on the diversity of the staff first and on the diversity among students second.
Diversity policies show that the university takes diversity seriously.
Coordinator of studies, International Studies, Leiden University
Career and leadership coach
Leiden University should introduce gender quotas to increase the number of female leaders and professors
“It’s an interesting thought. I think that once in a while you need to do something drastic to keep an organisation moving in the right direction, but at the same time it can be difficult for the women appointed. I’m afraid that if you introduce gender quotas people will assume the female leaders or professors are in their positions “just” because of their gender. I have worked in the corporate world and know what it’s like to be the only black woman in a world of white men. It puts you under a lot of pressure, because you feel the need to work extra hard to prove yourself.”
“I agree, it would only work if the leadership is fully on board. They need to embrace the quota system and keep explaining to the organisation and to each other why there is an urgent need for diversity.”
“You should only introduce gender quotas if your organisation is ready. It should go without saying that every single person is hired for his or her qualities, and not on the basis of gender.”
“I agree with you about an organisation having to be ready, but do we have time to wait for that to happen? How do we get to an ideal situation where everybody sees the need for diversity in their organisation? Maybe you have to break the status quo by taking drastic measures like introducing gender quotas, just to shake things up and start with a clean slate.”
Programme Manager Bachelor's in International Studies at Leiden University
Guest researcher at Radboud University
Striving for diversity is too often seen as political correctness, rather than an undeniable prerequisite for quality
“I only came here from Russia two months ago and it’s my first time abroad. But I’ve always been interested in how diversity can contribute to solving problems…”
“I’m sorry to interrupt you, but by talking about 'striving for diversity', you are making a mistake. You cannot strive for diversity. It is already there: ethnic diversity, sexual diversity, everything. This afternoon has been the starting point of the discussion about what to do with that fact. It’s not just about the 'benefit' of making use of it. Diversity is an absolute necessity.”
“Oh, I agree. And Philomena Essed made an important statement in her speech saying that universities should regard students and lecturers as full human beings, as complete persons, with valuable experiences. And let in diversity through them.”
“Something I was discussing with a colleague earlier is that Philomena Essed also said that universities copy the corporate world and are therefore scoring poorly on diversity issues. However, companies seem to have a much better eye for diversity than universities.”
“That could be. I have to say though, I’m really impressed with Leiden University. Russia has a very different experience in dealing with diversity and sometimes the Western approach is only seen als political correctness. But here it is really practiced. As a Muslim I have a room at my disposal where I can pray. And there are such good facilities for students with disabilities. When I discovered that I was speechless.”
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