During the presentation of the Aletta Jacobs Prize on Friday 6 March, Rector Magnificus Cisca Wijmenga announced that the University of Groningen has created an incentive fund to set up fifteen new chairs, which will be assigned exclusively to female academics. The chairs will be named after the figurehead of the UG: Aletta Jacobs.
The fifteen Aletta Jacobs chairs will be divided between all eleven faculties. The incentive fund will enable the faculties to convert existing Associate Professor posts into Full Professor posts this academic year. The UG already runs the
Rosalind Franklin Fellowship Programme, which allowed the UG to appoint its 100 th talented female academic in 2019.
Since 1990, once every two years on or around International Women’s Day, the UG has awarded the Aletta Jacobs Prize to a woman with an academic degree who has promoted emancipation on the national or international stage. This year, the prize went to the President of the Dutch House of Representatives, Khadija Arib.While presenting the award, Prof. Cisca Wijmenga said the following:
‘This prize is presented by the Rector Magnificus of this university. Until now, it has always been a man. I am, after all, the first female Rector Magnificus in 405 years. This is a milestone in our academic history. Let there be no doubt that the UG still has a long way to go in terms of equality. Over 52% of our students are women. The percentage of female Associate Professors, who come just behind professors in the hierarchy, has risen in recent years and is now 37%. But this does not necessarily mean that we will reach our target figure of 27% female professors by the end of 2020. Despite all our concerted and varied efforts, such as the establishment of our renowned Rosalind Franklin Fellowship, we still only expect this figure to reach 23%. So we have a lot more work to do. This is why I am delighted to announce today that we are appointing fifteen extra role models for our female students. I hope that it will inspire them to opt for a career in academia.’
Aletta H. Jacobs (1854-1929) was the first female student to start a degree programme at a Dutch university. She began studying Medicine in Groningen in 1871 and was awarded a PhD on 8 March 1879 for a thesis on the physiology and pathology of the brain. After her studies, Aletta Jacobs contributed to the improvement of working and living conditions for women in many ways. As a doctor, she introduced contraceptive pessaries in the Netherlands and in 1881, was involved in the establishment of the Nieuw–Malthusiaanse Bond, an organization promoting birth control, predecessor of the NVSH, the Dutch Association for Sexual Reform. She held free surgeries for working-class women, was concerned about the fate of prostitutes and lobbied for better working conditions (including seating) for (female) shop employees.For many years, she was chair of the Vereeniging voor Vrouwenkiesrecht (the Dutch suffragettes) and played an active part in the international peace movement.
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