Women must make up one in three professors at VUB


The Free University of Brussels is introducing a quota system that will require a third of its professors to be women

Long road

The Free University of Brussels (VUB) is to introduce a quota system that will require one in three professors to be a woman. With 28% of its professors already female, it has the best female representation of an any Flemish university.

But more action is needed to get more women to the top of academia, VUB rector Caroline Pauwels (pictured) said in an interview with the newsweekly Knack.

The decision to introduce a quota flowed out of administrators’ realisation that they would fail to realise their aspiration of having 33% female professors by 2021. “We noticed that the percentage had only increased by one percentage point in the last 10 years – from 27% to 28% – so we will not reach our goal at this rate,” Pauwels told public broadcaster VRT.

She said she felt uncomfortable introducing a quota, but defended it as necessary to achieve more gender equality among the university’s professors.

It’s not yet clear how the VUB will apply the quota to reach its 33% goal. “You cannot do that in the blink of an eye; the right people have to be available,” Pauwels said. “We are now analysing our staff figures and examining what time frame is realistic; it could be four or five years.”

She added that more support measures were also needed to help women more easily advance to the position of professor.
Photo courtesy VUB

Free University of Brussels (VUB)

The VUB was established as a spin-off of the French-speaking Université Libre de Bruxelles in the 1960s. It’s an internationally oriented and liberal institution, and the only Dutch-speaking university in the capital.
Work - The VUB is the largest Dutch-speaking employer of the Brussels-Capital Region.
St V - Every year, students honour university founder Pierre Theodore Verhaegen in a festive, booze-filled “St V” march through the city.
Campus - The VUB is the only Dutch-speaking university with a small, American-style green campus.

Master’s programmes offered


million euros in research budget in 2010

12 000

students in 2011-2012 academic year