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Five Italian female professors on why Dutch women are lagging behind

As the antipasti is brought to the table, the women talk in amazement about how so many female professors at Radboud University come from abroad. When it comes to the exact sciences faculties, they make up nearly 100 percent. `I really don't understand it', says Alessandra Cambi, Professor of Cell Biology in the medical faculty. `Dutch childcare infrastructure is so good! You can have kids here without having Granddad and Nan in the neighbourhood, too.'

Mariani points out an economic reason: due to poverty and poor social facilities, Italian women have traditionally been accustomed to working. `In the Netherlands, that isn't necessary--the salaries are high enough.' Elena Marchiori, Professor of Machine Learning, nods: `It is precisely in the less economically developed countries that you see many women in science.'

Prosperity may act as a ceiling for equal rights. There is a reason these five Italian women feel that part-time work a Dutch phenomenon: `Ask the Dutch girls in secondary school how many hours they plan on working later in life and they'll tell you 28 hours.'

That may be why there are more working women here (65 percent in the Netherlands versus 49 percent in Italy), but creating a career this way is certainly harder. Cambi: `Getting a top position by working 3.5 days a week does not happen.'

Yet that part-timer principle is deeply embedded in the minds of Dutch women. `When my oldest son went to sign up for university day care, I was told that a maximum of three days per week is standard and good for your child. After that, it is difficult to say that you want four or five days.'

by das monde on Sat Dec 2nd, 2017 at 11:24:43 AM EST
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