I was interested to see an advertised tenure-track position for an engineering professor at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL). The position is open to any field of engineering, but is restricted to women. The purpose is of course to increase the number of women engineering professors at EPFL in particular and Switzerland in general.
This seems like an extreme measure, and I'm curious as to whether less extreme mechanisms for hiring women were first tried: e.g., having women participate in hiring committees and ensuring that talented women applicants for open positions are given full consideration.
The position involves an endowed professorship, and therefore it may come with some status, but I also wonder how a woman hired for a position that specifies it is for a woman engineer will be viewed by her colleagues. Presumably a talented woman will be hired and will be respected as much as any faculty member (??).
Some of my engineering colleagues, some of whom have spent sabbaticals in Switzerland, think that the weirdest part of the ad is the part that says that the position is intended "to promote women's insight in engineering". My colleagues and I were joking about this -- wondering if it meant that the woman is supposed to bring a 'feminine touch' to her engineering research. Then we wondered what 'women's insight in physics' or 'women's insight in chemistry' might be like.
1 year ago