The Universite libre de Bruxelles (ULB) consists of 13 faculties, schools and specialized institutes covering all the disciplines. Founded in 1834, the ULB has a long tradition of excellence in research with four scientific Nobel Prizes, one Fields Medal, three Wolf Prizes and two Marie Curie Excellence Awards. It is one of the largest and best Research Universities in Belgium. The university also played a pioneering role in the presence of women in Belgian universities, welcoming the first three women university students, the first woman assistant, the first woman professor and the first – and only until now – woman rector in French speaking Belgium.
Status of gender inequalities before CALIPER
There is clearly a gradual erosion of women throughout the scientific and academic career: if the distribution of women and men are almost equal at the R1 stage, the presence of women in the higher levels decreases. 56% of the general student population of the ULB consists of women (2017-2018). In the health and art sector, women represent respectively 59% and 64% of the students. Whereas in the science sector the proportion of female students decreases strongly: only 37% of the students are women. Gender segregation is also visible from figures on graduate and PhD students: Women count for only 31% of PhD students in the sciences.
Existing gender equality policies at a faculty level
The university postulates that “any committee responsible for examining candidatures for academic appointments or promotions shall be composed, in the extent possible, of at least one third of members of each sex.” The ULB foresees also per maternity leave one supplementary year in seniority for internal calls for research projects. During this school year (2017-2018), the ULB has organized for the first time a specialized inter-university master program in gender studies. ULB also has a research collective called “STRIGES” that regroups all researchers in social sciences working on gender equality issues. The ULB already started with the implementation of measures and initiatives to stimulate gender equality at the university. Two groups of existing measures can be distinguished: measures at university level and at faculty level. These actions are however not part of a more structured and long-term gender equality plan.