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Seminar "Academic Careers: then and now", Tues. April 23rd.

What? A seminar about the careers of women full professors at the Radboud University in the past and now, followed by drinks.
When? Tuesday April 23rd, 16.00h-17.15h + drinks (until 18.00h)
Where? Collegezalencomplex CC5 (seminar) and Cultuurcafé (drinks), Mercatorpad 1
Who? People from different career stages (PhD candidates to full professors)

Halkes board member Joke Leenders opened the seminar with with a warm welcome for all attendees and introduced the speakers:

Dr. Marjet Derks (Ass. Prof. Cultural and Religious History) co-authored the biographies of two of our 'formothers' (as she called them): Prof. Christine Mohrmann - first woman full professor at RU - and Prof. Catharina Halkes - first woman full professor with a chair in women's studies at RU. She gave an informative and photo-illustrated presentation about these two women, who crossed paths several times, yet held opposing views on the Catholic Church (Mohrmann conservative & Halkes progressive).

Marjet Derks

Next, Prof. Dr. Toine Lagro-Janssen (Gender Studies Medicine) gave a talk about her personal and professional life: starting as a child in a non-academic family, she eventually became a pioneer in the field of gender and medicine. She characterized her development along two lines: first,  always being somewhat of an outsider and trying to change her environment, and second, seeking connections with others.

Toine Lagro-Janssen

Then Prof. Mr. Janneke Gerards (Fundamental Rights Law) took the stage and explained how she learnt her first career lessons from her ballet class as a child: to work hard and be dedicated.  She attributed her success (e.g. becoming a full professor at the age of 29) to her devotion to her work, talent for legal research and writing, being an active member of her research communities, and 'dumb luck'.

Janneke Gerards

After the talks, the audience had the opportunity to ask questions, among which:

Did their womanhood help or constrain Mohrmann's and Halkes' careers? Constrain for Mohrmann, help Halkes (as her main topic of interest was women-related)

And what about the present professors? Being a woman among men heightens your visibility, which is good, yet it is difficult for women to get inside information and to have informal connections with relevant others (men). Which are, as the talks showed, significant for academic careers.

Should mentors be women or men? Does not matter, as long as you know someone who can introduce you to relevant others.

Do the professors coach women themselves? Yes.

After the seminar, the meeting was continued with informal drinks at the Cultuurcafé.

In short, some advice we gained from the meeting:

Be passionate about your research topic
Do what you want to do most and can do best, and do it vigorously
Have a mentor who can open doors for you
Don't always 'do nice' > don't aim to please everyone (you can't)
Find solutions when things are not the way you want them to be
Reflect on your childhood: they give keys to understanding your strenghts and weaknesses
Don't always be in it to win, sometimes just play the game.
Be active in your research community (boards, committees)
Be visible and positive, grasp opportunities
Get to know your energy balance: what gives energy, and what drains your energy?
And if all that doesn't help, smoke cigars...

If you have any comments, feedback or questions about this meeting (or others), please let us know via this form or halkes@fm.ru.nl.

Dr. Marjet Derks

Dr. Marjet Derks

Prof. dr. Toine Lagro-Janssen

Prof. Dr. Toine Lagro-Janssen

Prof. Mr. Janneke Gerards

Prof. Mr. Janneke Gerards