Superscientists are like superheroes: competitive and performance-oriented. Exceptionally masculine stereotypes dominate our view of what it means to be successful in science, and this is a problem for men and women alike, also at TU/e.
Where are the female professors? In the Netherlands, currently one in five professors is female, and the TU/e ranks bottom of the list with only 12.6%. Research shows that we have many biases about what a good scientist or engineer is and who fits that image. A recent study among 4000 scientists (m/f) for example reveals that exceptionally masculine stereotypes dominate our view of what it means to be successful in science; we strongly associate it with masculine (being self-interested, competitive and performance-oriented) rather than feminine traits (being a good collaborator and a nice colleague). Such occupational stereotypes are an important obstacle for women’s careers. In addition, also men are not encouraged to use their more feminine qualities.
Ruth van Veelen studies this phenomenon in Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM). She examines how men and women deal with gender bias and inequality at work and how this affects career development and choice. She will explain how highly masculine occupational stereotypes act as a self-fulfilling prophecy that maintains the underrepresentation of women in STEM-related fields.
Subsequently, together with TU/e researchers and students we will share experiences from our university and discuss what both men and women can do to induce change.
Dr. Ruth van Veelen (department of Social, Health and Organisational Psychology, Utrecht University) examines social identity development and diversity at work, particularly in academia and the technical sector.
Prof. dr. Wijnand IJsselsteijn is professor of Cognition and Affect in Human-Technology Interaction at TU/e.
Interesting read: “If everyone must meet this masculine norm to ‘succeed’ in academia, it is questionable whether academia really will become more diverse” (ScienceGuide)
A collaboration between TINT and Studium Generale.