News

Compensation for pregnant PhD students

Published on
January 24, 2023

PhD candidates who work in a chemistry lab have to stop immediately if they become pregnant as working with solvents is dangerous for the foetus. But they can’t always be sure their contract will be extended, because pregnancy is an expense for the chair group. Now WUR is tackling that problem with a new scheme.

The Executive Board has created a special fund to compensate chair groups for the extra costs. The compensation is several tens of thousands of euros, depending on how long the student is unable to work and on the chair group’s financial position. The money will be used entirely for the extension of the PhD candidate’s contract. This means a pregnancy will not have such a negative impact on the group’s finances," says Diversity & Inclusion manager Eva Siebelink.

Postdoc

Professor of Organic Chemistry Han Zuilhof is pleased with the scheme, which he says is the first of its kind in the Netherlands. "In Dutch academia, you often see women only have a baby after they have completed their postdoc. They make quite sure they don’t get pregnant before then. My PhD candidates say a pregnancy is scientific suicide. That’s because it is far from certain whether the contract will be extended in full, or indeed at all."

Eva Siebelink, Diversity & Inclusion manager
What matters is that everyone at WUR had equal opportunities

Professor of Organic Chemistry Han Zuilhof is pleased with the scheme, which he says is the first of its kind in the Netherlands. "In Dutch academia, you often see women only have a baby after they have completed their postdoc. They make quite sure they don’t get pregnant before then. My PhD candidates say a pregnancy is scientific suicide. That’s because it is far from certain whether the contract will be extended in full, or indeed at all."