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The Vrije Universiteit Brussel has launched a far-reaching equality action plan that will create room for diversity and equal opportunities for both staff and students. It includes a 10-point, two-year plan in which VUB commits to safeguard the equality of students and staff, to make balanced use of everyone’s talents and experience, and to work towards a sustainable culture shift in all areas of the VUB community.


The focus of the new action plan is gender and ethnicity, but there will also be efforts in other areas of inequality and structural discrimination, such as age, sexual orientation, ideology and social class. The plan will operate on a two-year cycle. For the first two years, it sets out 10 concrete priority actions.


1 in 3 a woman

Professor Karen Celis, academic advisor on equality policy:


“When recruiting Independent Academic Personnel, at least one in three candidates must be a woman – or a man in faculties where women are over-represented. The recruitment channels should also make more diversity possible. Inclusive job adverts and wider recruitment will encourage specific target groups to apply. All staff members involved in recruiting and selecting Independent Academic Personnel will be trained in gender bias, diversity and non-discrimination.”

Faculties closely monitor the gender ratio in the applications for Independent Academic Personnel and strive to include at least 1/3 candidates of the under-represented gender on the shortlist / in the applications that are taken seriously into account.
The Vrije Universiteit Brussel is recruiting an HR advisor for equality, who will support the faculty in its recruitment policy. They will strengthen the Equality team, which consists of gender and diversity policy officer Lisa Wouters and professor Karen Celis.

Diversity in education

VUB will carry out a curriculum scan and examine the content of its courses. In doing so, the university is engaging in the discussion taking place in numerous institutions in Belgium and abroad about the colonial, Eurocentric and gendered way in which knowledge is created and passed on. The curriculum scan will point out where there is room to diversify knowledge and provide solutions.
There will be a vision statement about diversity and anti-discrimination. Through training and coaching, VUB is doing its bit for knowledge building and cultural change. The VUB community will become more aware of various diversity themes through a call to action for students based on equality and inclusion. A website will provide visibility for initiatives and contact points relating to diversity. Finally, there will be monitoring and reporting on the diversity policy.
Professor Caroline Pauwels, rector of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, on the equality action plan:
“I want to change what is structurally wrong and I believe that can only happen through an all-encompassing policy. With this equality action plan, we are working on the expansion of a diverse and open student and research community, with a university that’s ready for the coming societal and scientific challenges. Equality and diversity are not just a question of social fairness but are necessary to excel in education, research and service provision.”
The action plan and its 10 priorities have been submitted to Actiris, the Brussels region’s employment service, with a view to receiving a diversity label.

Gender Week

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, RHEA (Research Centre on Gender, Diversity & Intersectionality), Crosstalks, Research Events and the Equality Team organize the Gender Week from 4 to 8 March.
A week of reflection and debate about women’s rights & power, inclusion in academia and equal pay. The various lectures and seminars offer an intersectional and feminist approach. We invite you to engage and participate!