At VIB, women make up for just over 50% of all PhD students and postdocs. But when looking at the female representation at group leader and/or expert level this percentage drops dramatically to 23%.

VIB is confident that it encourages females to go for the next step on the scientific career ladder and that recruitment processes are designed to choose the best candidate regardless of gender, nationality, religion, age, political and religious background. Once on board, we want to further support women in their career, by building an inclusive environment. We want to create an open, inspiring environment where all staff feel safe and free to share ideas and concerns and can give their feedback. A supportive and inclusive leadership culture is necessary, where leaders listen to staff expression of frustrations & challenges and collaboratively come up with supportive & workable solutions. We believe that staff are crucial stakeholders in the success of VIB and must be actively involved. Successes must be acknowledged and celebrated, and positivity is reinforced daily. Fighting against the 'Mathilda' effect, stereotyping & unconscious bias is a task for everybody at VIB.


 Over the past years, several actions have been put in place to increase the percentage of female group leaders and experts:

  • Active scouting for female candidates for all vacant PI positions
  • Adapting the language in job adverts to attract female applicants
  • Making recruitment panels mixed, at least two women per panel 
  • Focusing on the potential research plan and not entirely on the past output
  • Allowing internal promotion of female scientists
  • Putting less emphasis on mobility requirements when hiring female group leaders or experts
  • Introducing a grace period for young mothers for evaluation and recruitment purposes
  • Organizing Career Guidance sessions and self-leadership training for women-only to counteract the imposter syndrome
  • Organizing workshops to create awareness on unconscious bias
  • Stimulating initiatives to ameliorate work-life balance:
    • Provide childcare on campus
    • Bsit Care app
    • Allow working from home
    • Flexible working hours
    • Pay attention to timing of meetings
    • Encourage parental leave for fathers
  • Gender Action Plan:
    • Recruitment of 10 extra female PI's
    • Young female promising scientists
    • Funding for 5 years
    • No guarantees - readiness for next step
    • Mentoring, grant support, leadership coaching.