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Round table meeting on May 10th 2016

On 10th May 2016, we had a pleasant and useful Round Table lunch meeting (co-organised with Radboud Women in Computer Science) with many enthusiastic participants.

The themes discussed during this Roundtable meeting were: Imposter syndrome; Women's quota; and work life balance. Below is a summary of each theme's discussion.


Imposter syndrome


Imposter syndrome can be summed up as the feeling of not being good enough for the job, or people discovering that you are a 'fraud' and do not know your stuff. The discussion on this theme revolved around the following questions: What is Imposter Syndrome? and How can we deal with it? The group had an extensive discussion about the signs and symptoms associated with Imposter Syndrome, and the different ways of dealing with the Imposter Syndrome.

Outcome of the discussion:

We noted that people are often the ones holding themselves back, by always doubting what others are thinking about them. We should embrace the fear of the unknown, feeling vulnerable and welcome
new challenges and experiences to overcome the Imposter Syndrome.
Additionally, having a mentor (preferably outside of your work environment) can also be a boost of confidence.
We also shared the following list of resources:

  • "Lean In" by Sheryl Sandberg (and TED talk)
  • "Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges" by Amy Cuddy (and TED talk)
  • "Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead" by Brene Brown (and TED Talk)
  • "Women to the Top" mentoring program offered at Radboud University


Women's quota: Necessity or nonsense?


In several countries, companies have introduced a women’s quota. Research has suggested that higher female participations in boards of directors and supervisory boards has positive effects on sustainability and financial management. In the Netherlands, a law (Wet Bestuur en Toezicht) was passed in 2012 to stimulate the number of women in top positions. However, the results aimed for were not reached. The Radboud University has 23,1% of female professors. This is higher than the average number of female professors in Dutch universities, but not yet 30%. The university has announced to aim for 25 % in 2020. (Source: http://www.ru.nl/nieuws-agenda/nieuws/vm/2015/november/bovengemiddeld-percentage-vrouwelijke-hoogleraren/. This raises the question whether this intention is enough or whether a quota would be desirable. This question to date remains controversial; the discussion of course is not restricted to the (Radboud) university, but has wider societal implications.

Outcome of the discussion:

  • It is important to aim for an equal balance of men and women, but it is also important to consider diversity more broadly and to think of other minorities. Looking at the demography of a population is helpful to identify various subgroups that should be represented in high positions.
  • Whereas some of the participants earlier in their careers thought a quota was unnecessary, throughout their working life they experienced that the higher one gets the more difficult it becomes for women to acquire a position. As long as men are dominant in the higher positions, their ideas and biases will prevail. It may be added to this that the numbers show that having children or a family is an impediment for women’s’ careers.
  • In order to effect real change in gender balance, a critical mass of women is needed. This means more than occasionally accepting/installing a woman higher up. The importance lies in the actual number of women needed to maintain the change: the percentage of 30% is important to achieve such a critical mass.
  • A quota is necessary as it addresses a sense of fairness. Half of society is (fe)male, so this calls for equal opportunities for men and women. In order to unsuccessfully come to an equal division of positions, a change of mindset is fundamental to change structures, not only symptoms. Women should not be expected to imitate/conform to male behavior.

All in all, this is a complex discussion, with many sides to it. Putting the diversity issue on the agenda of policy makers etcetera is important to raise attention for it and in order to incite them to actively try to allow more women in top positions.


Work life balance

Coming soon...