20 May 2019

Interview with Jojanneke van der Toorn in Pandora Magazine

In the May version of Pandora, a magazine on gender issues, diversity, and inclusion at UU, an interview was conducted with social and organisational psychologist Prof. Jojanneke van der Toorn.

Pandora is the magazine of the Women's Network of Utrecht University (Vrouwennetwerk Universiteit Utrecht). This network stands for (gender) diversity within the academic and organisational context, the conscientisation of stereotyping, and the visibility of female talent. The magazine includes interviews with inspiring professors, columns of prominent academics, and articles on diversity and inclusion. 

Dr. Jojanneke van der Toorn

Gap between science and practice

Since January 2017, Jojanneke van der Toorn is the first and only Associate Professor LGBT Workplace Inclusion in the world. She combines this unique position at Leiden University with a position as Associate Professor Social and Organisational Psychology at Utrecht University, where she also conducts studies diversity policy.

Van der Toorn has noticed that a lot of organisations are running diversity policies that are seldom based on scientifically proven effectivity. "A lot of measures are based on diversity, so increasing the numbers, while a focus on inclusion, culture, is just as important. Where are you heading to as organisation?"

Treating everyone fairly can turn out unfairly.

Colour blindness

Many organisations pretend that they don't see differences between their employers. "Colour blind policy often is well-intentioned, but we do not all have the same starting position. People are equal but do not have equal opportunities." The focus should lie on groups of people who historically have less chances - target group policies are needed for that. 

A considerable amount of LGBT+ people choose to stay inside the closet at work. This is partly due to sexual orientations being considered a private matter. It is important to create space at the workplace to have conversations about sexuality and gender. It doesn't always have to be about this, but it should be allowed and possible to do so. To decrease prejudices, creating empathy is crucial.