Priority for Mothers in Selection.

Below I have copied an article my father wrote in “De Psycholoog” 21 years ago. The article is in Dutch, but has an English summary at the end. Unfortunately, not much seems to have changed in the intervening 21 years, making this still a good suggestion.

https://www.sciencemom.nl/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/voorrang-voor-moeders.pdf

Summary: On the basis of plausible assumptions fed into the general formula for multiple regression, motherhood receives a positive weight in predicting future productivity. Psychometrically, this result constitutes a ‘reverse suppressor effect’ as opposed to the regular suppressor effect in which a background variable receives a negative weight. Furthermore, priority for mothers (and others who have been subject to a temporary natural handicap, for example, refugees) is not objectionable, as the handicap is a consequence of a human right documented in the Universal Declaration. It follows that priority for mothers (and refugees) is both rational and legitimate.

A recent article in the UK describes the situation at the RUG faculty of science and engineering. While issues probably exist in other faculties as well, the situation in the sciences seems most severe. As a scientist and mom myself, I can only hope that someday websites such as this one seem terribly archaic, but for now, I fear obsolesense is far in the future. Let’s hope my daughters will not refer to this post 20 years from now, showing how not much has changed.

“Voortaan doen we alleen nog waarvoor we betaald worden.”

Vandaag stonden twee artikelen in de UKrant die elkaar aardig aanvullen. Een column van mijn Collega URaads lid Casper Albers met de quote in de titel, en een verslag over de brief van de inspectie, die geen aanleiding ziet om nu verder onderzoek naar werkdruk te doen. Ik hoop dat WOin Actie wel een nieuw onderzoek instelt en laat zien dat, wat in mijn ervaring overduidelijk is, de situatie het afgelopen jaar, mede door Corona, nog veel verder verslechterd is.

Helaas is de suggestie van de titel niet een erg realistische, vooral niet voor docenten die geen onderzoeksaanstelling hebben en dus al hun tijd onderwijs geven. Deze categorie wordt afgerekend op de output, moet innoveren zonder extra steun en heeft onlangs alles moeten aanpassen naar de Corona omstandigheden. Verlichting zit er voorlopig niet in, want binnenkort wordt de keuze voor het nieuwe Nestor platform bekend gemaakt, en dan mogen de docenten alles voor komend jaar op dit nieuwe platform gaan klaarzetten. De huidige ‘Corona’ assistenten worden dan ingezet om deze overgang te begeleiden, dus van extra werkdruk-verlichting is dan geen sprake meer.

Een iets ouder artikel in Science Guide legt een deel van de oorzaak, en daarmee ook de oplossing, voor de te hoge werkdruk bij de doorgeschoten prestatiecultuur van de universiteiten. In het artikel wordt verwezen naar een wetenschappelijke publicatie van Jan van Helden (RUG) en Daniela Argento in Public Money & Management. Het artikel richt zich meer op de wetenschappelijke prestatiedrang. Mooi natuurlijk, maar daar echt iets aan veranderen kan alleen als iedereen meedoet, en dat gaat niet gebeuren, zolang de Universiteit de mensen met alle tijd voor hun carrière blijft belonen boven mensen die er ook nog een ‘leven’ op na houden. Dan moet je het natuurlijk al helemaal niet hebben over mensen, zoals alleenstaande ouders of mensen met mantelzorgtaken, die ook nog eens voor anderen moeten zorgen.

Ondertussen ben ik grotendeels hersteld van mijn derde burnout in 7 jaar, mede dankzij de uitstekende Balans cursus van Samula Mescher. Ik zou dolgraag weer les willen geven, maar mijn eigen faculteit (UCG) heeft besloten hier niet langer gebruik van te willen maken. Het feit dat ik hard gewerkt heb om de burnout, en de daarmee gepaard gaande depressie, te boven te komen, wordt hierbij niet in beschouwing genomen. Jammer, maar hopelijk kan ik elders binnen de RUG mijn steentje bijdragen om de veel te hoge werkdruk te verlichten.

Ik blijf natuurlijk vechten om in de URaad en andere gremia het werkdruk probleem op steeds opnieuw aan de orde te stellen

University Council Elections this week

Dear friends and colleagues, 
The University Council and faculty councils have their elections this week. As you probably know, I am once again on the ballot for the personnel faction. If you have not voted yet, I urge you to do so now, and I hope you will vote on me, or at least the Pf. If you have voted, I thank you for your participation, a strong turnout helps the democratic process. If you know people who havent voted yet, please urge them to vote too. Every vote counts.
This past year we have all experienced what a pandemic can do to our work environment, research and teaching. Even once the pandemic will be under control, there are still many challenges ahead. The new strategic plan will be implemented, new modes of teaching and working will be integrated into the existing structures, and ever larger number of students will start their studies in the coming year. We should soon get an ombudsfunctionaris (dutch title), many new colleagues are joining our ranks, and in the last budget we negotiated for millions of extra funding for workload relief, the so called de Baets funds, named after one of my Pf faction members. 
In the personnel faction we work together with academic and support staff to make our university the best possible place to work. We have representatives from many different departments, providing many different viewpoints and creative ideas for improvements. Within the Pf I focus on reducing the workload, equity and diversity, fair practices, and have a special focus on topics of interdisciplinary and liberal arts & science education. If you ever come across an issue that you would like to share with me, feel free to send me an email, and I will see what we can do. 
Take care, stay healthy and VOTE!
Mariet Hofstee, http://personeelsfractie.nl/  VOTE PF!

Video on Inclusive Teaching from UCG

This very nice video was produced by students from UCG under guidance from Oksana Kavastyuk:

As a part of the educational research (Comenius project) at the UCG, students investigated how to make STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) courses more gender inclusive. In a short video students will tell teachers what to change/improve in their courses to create a more inclusive classroom. We believe that small changes can make a big difference!

University Council Elections 2021

I am currently a member of the University Council of Groningen University in the Netherlands. In the upcoming elections I once again hope to be elected to the council. I have enjoyed working with the diverse team in our faction and learned a lot about how the University functions, and sometimes does not function. The elections will start on 17 May 2021, and I will use this platform in the future to add information about my activities as a University Council member.

Workload

The workload for instructors and lecturers in Academia has been mounting for decades. This past academic year saw a pandemic and a concurrent increase in student enrolment, which has made a bad situation worse, especially for parents with school-age kids that had to spend time and attention on homeschooling them during an already extra busy workday. WO-in-actie has previously petitioned the government to provide more funding to relieve the work-load, and currently a new initiative is reiterating this need, not just for appointing teaching assistants, but people at the the faculty level. In the letter the groups, WO in Actie together with the unions, is asking for an increase of 20% of the teaching related personnel budget. As a University council member of the RUG I support this letter. However, the personnel faction and the unions are working together to ask the board of the University to take such actions. We cannot wait for money to come from Den Haag. It is time to act now!