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Julie Gould hears how a technical university in the Netherlands took radical measures to boost the number of female academics.

Earlier this year Eindhoven University of Technology faced a social media backlash after announcing that from July 2019, all academic staff vacancies will be open to female applicants only for the first six months. Many people questioned the legality of the move.

In this first episode of a six-part series about careers in physics, Cornelis Storm, who leads the theory of polymers and soft-matter group at the Dutch university, tells Julie Gould why the “radical step” was sorely needed. He also describes why the physics department, and the discipline more generally, will benefit from being more diverse.

“For whatever reason there is a large group of people that are not considering a career in physics. There’s not a single piece of research that suggests men are better at this job than women.”

Astrophysicist Elizabeth Tasker, an associate professor at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, was hired through a similar policy, and tells Gould about her experience.

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