Only hiring women, a discriminatory action

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A university in the Netherlands undertook to hire only women for 18 months, a method that has been highly criticized by some sectors of the population

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Three businesswomen talking in a reunion / Reference image / Unsplash

LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Suárez

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The Technical University of Eindhoven, in the Netherlands, announced during the first days of July that it will implement a method to encourage more women to occupy high positions in the scientific field. For the next 18 months, the university will only hire women, hoping that the most qualified will have the opportunity to excel in this sector.

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The project is called Irène Curie Fellowship, in honor of the winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and daughter of scientists Pierre and Marie Curie, who obtained a Nobel Prize in Physics years before she did.

The measure began on July 1st, and with this, the university intends that by the end of 2020, 25% of the professors and 35% of the assistants will be women.

The medical journal The Lancet, published in February an article that shows the gap between men and women in this field. This gap has to do with the financial support that is given to women when it comes to scientific projects, as well as the deployment and recognition granted to them. That, not to mention the starting point: the small number of women who achieve high positions in scientific projects.

To combat this, the project of the Dutch university will allow women, who enter sheltered by the process, to have a budget of 100,000 euros for their research, accompanied, to a tutor. With all these benefits, they seek not only to encourage women in the areas of professors and researchers, but also to increase the percentage of female students, for which they have a longer plan of 5 years.

At first sight, the plan is ambitious, favorable and struggles for women and gender balance. However, this is a method that has been highly criticized by some sectors of the population. This type of action is called "positive discrimination", and is sometimes seen as a segregation for women, which, even if it has a good purpose, continues to be segregation.

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Positive discrimination, yes or no?

Although the method can help to combat the gender imbalance, the struggle for women's rights also seeks equity, which is achieved by involving both men and women. That is, limiting a call to be only for women implies that they are being segregated.

Aren't they able to compete with men and still win the positions? Do they need men to give them a push to succeed? These would be some of the questions that would arise from those who do not support positive discrimination.

A paper from the University of the Basque Country talks about the relationship between equality and positive discrimination. Although there are variations in what can be conceived as equality (politics, equality before the law, etc.), we talk about equality of treatment, that is, treating "equal" all the people, depending on their characterization. On the other hand, discrimination has a negative connotation because it is the rupture of that equality that is sought.

In that sense, positive discrimination is an attempt to unite these two concepts, using the same segregation that already exists to include those who do not have equal treatment. However, according to the article, it continues to have a negative character, since discrimination is being used to help equality.

To summarize this controversial position in front of the initiative, the Dutch researcher Rik Peels posted on his Twitter account a thread in which he says it is a condescending response to a bigger problem, "as if women could not get a job on their own".

To which he added: "Women want an open and fair selection, and almost everyone wants to be hired for their qualities and not in the name of an ideological agenda. This is very discriminatory for men who are looking for a job. You cannot fight injustice with more injustice."

The rector of this university, Frank Baaijens, is aware that positive discrimination is not approved by many, and that it is not the first option to be incurred. However, he affirmed that they resorted to this one because "in the last decade, we have done the possible thing in Eindhoven to improve the percentage, although without satisfactory results. So the new type of contract is necessary. "