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Four years of women's network at the Faculty of Science

A valuable community of female researchers, providing solicited and unsolicited advice to the Board of the Faculty of Science. Those are the strengths of women’s network RISE. On 11 September the network presented its second biennial report.

The RISE (Researchers in Science for Equality) women's network was launched 4 years ago. On 29 August, during the farewell reception of dean Geert de Snoo, the board members provided a sneak preview of their second biennial report to the board of the Faculty of Science, Rector Magnificus Carel Stolker and Vice Rector Magnificus Hester Bijl. On 11 September, exactly 4 years after the launch of RISE, the report was officially published.

‘The first two years of RISE very successfully laid the foundations for the network. These second two years have confirmed that RISE has grown into a valuable community of female researchers and into an appreciated partner providing solicited and unsolicited advice to the faculty board based on the views of RISE members.’ This is what board members Miranda van Eck, Martina Vijver and Irene Groot write in the cover letter of their biennial report from RISE.

Researchers in Science for Equality

Although the awareness of the importance of equality in gender balance for good science is evident, women are still under-represented at top positions within the Faculty of Science. That is why researchers Van Eck (LACDR) and Vijver (CML) set up RISE four years ago. Van Eck and Vijver are still in the board, and in January 2019 Irene Groot (LIC) joined as a board member. RISE has 75 active members, working at all eight institutes of the Faculty.

Policy advice and empowering of women

The network advises the management of the Faculty on gender policy and is active within the university and at the national level in the field of diversity. At university level, Van Eck, Vijver and Annemarie Meijer of RISE are part of the core group of prominent female scientists of the seven faculties of Leiden University that took the initiative to launch Leiden University’s women’s network SOPHIA.

RISE actively follows the percentage of women in different academic categories at the Faculty, which has seen an increasing trend. But the network also strives for equality in other aspects, such as equal payment and satisfaction with Leiden University as employer, as well as ways to empower its members. Hereto RISE organises workshops to stimulate personal and professional development, for example, on academic leadership, on how to emphasise your strengths, and on improving your visibility as a scientist.

RISE presented Geert de Snoo with an award for his extraordinary commitment to gender equality during his farewell reception. De Snoo contributed to the creation of the network, collaborated closely with them and is an enthusiastic supporter of diversity.

RISE award

The RISE community thrives on initiatives from its members, but also commitment from supporters of gender equality outside RISE is essential. ‘Together we form a powerful instrument to create equal opportunities.’ To acknowledge outstanding commitment to increasing gender equality at the Faculty of Science, the RISE award was installed. This prestigious award has been presented twice since the foundation of RISE. The honourable awardees were Eric Eliel (former scientific director of the Physics institute, 2018) and Geert de Snoo (former Dean of the Faculty of Science, 2019).  

Anniversary and RISE symposium

The year 2020 will mark the first five-year anniversary of RISE. The network hopes to continue to grow, to reach more female researchers, and to organise a wider array of workshops. The lustrum year will kick off with an exciting RISE symposium ‘Science for a viable society’ on 21 November 2019, for all researchers at the Faculty of Science, men and women. Save this date in your agenda and visit the RISE website for updates.

Top photo, from left to right: rector magnificus Carel Stolker and vice rector magnificus Hester Bijl receive the second biennial RISE report from Martina Vijver, Miranda van Eck and Irene Groot. Photos by Liesbeth Dingemans.

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