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Sophia Women's Network

Sophia aims to create equal opportunities and promote a better working climate for female academic staff at Leiden University.

Logo of Sophia Women's Network
  • to remove the unequal ratio of male-female academic staff at Leiden University. 
  • to create equal opportunities
  • to make optimum use of the talents of Leiden's female academics

Sophia wants to actively contribute to implementing the University's diversity and inclusiveness policy by having direct contact with colleagues and submitting policy proposals to the Executive Board.

  • reporting on situations of inequality that warrant additional attention
  • advising the Executive Board and raising issues that need to be addressed
  • providing knowledge and information on issues that are underexposed or about which there is little awareness
  • organising supporting activities

Men are also welcome at Sophia. In organising activities, Sophia believes it is important to pay attention to diversity in terms of job level, gender, age, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and functional disabilities.

Advising on policy

Sophia is an official discussion partner for the Executive Board. The agreement is that Sophia will provide solicited and unsolicited advice to improve the position of women academics and ensure equal opportunities for all academic staff. The network will inform the Board of any signals it receives and will put forward additional measures where necessary. 

Annual plan

Sophia will work according to an annual programme of activities focusing on a number of key issues. The intention is to listen to the opinions and ideas of female academics in Leiden so that concrete needs and obstacles can be dealt with rapidly. 

Sophia is a network without a membership. It is open to men and women from different sections of the University. They will work with colleagues who contribute to Sophia's mission because of their job, but also with people who want to support the network in a different form. By joining forces, we can achieve more and faster. 


To contribute to the diversity and inclusiveness policy at Leiden University, Sophia will be working with the Diversity Office,  HRM and the diversity coordinators within the faculties. In raising issues and providing advice, Sophia will mainly work with formal and informal women's and other networks within the faculties, and with other networks within the University. 

Core group

The network has a core group comprising a representative group of women professors from all the faculties. To make sure that everyone feels represented, Sophia aims to have a diverse composition of members from different job levels, genders, ages, cultural backgrounds, sexual orientation and functional disabilities.

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The main impetus for setting up Sophia is the still low percentage of women professors and the obstacles that women come up against in building an academic career. Women academics more often have a temporary appointment, are given promotions less readily and earn less than male colleagues in the same position. These are just some of the barriers that women specifically encounter if they wish to climb the academic ladder.  

The Monitor 2016 of the National Network of Women Professors (Het Landelijk Netwerk van Vrouwelijke Hoogleraren, LNVH) demonstates the obstacles that are responsible for the low level of progress made by women at Dutch universities.  

If you have any questions or suggestions, or if you would like to support the work carried out by Sophia, please send a message to sophia@leidenuniv.nl

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