In bold new step, Dutch science academy holds women-only elections

scienceAMSTERDAM—Sorry guys—this time it’s women only. That’s the message the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) here has for male researchers during two special elections. In order to reduce its perpetual gender imbalance—87% of its 556 members are men—the academy seeks to recruit 10 new members in 2017 and six more in 2018, all with two X chromosomes.



It’s about as bold a step as any science academy has taken to address the underrepresentation of women—and for some it raises concerns. “I don’t think we would do that,” says Marcia McNutt, a geophysicist who became the first female president of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in Washington, D.C., earlier this year. “Other people might feel that women elected this way somehow did not meet the same standards as their male counterparts, or even other women elected through the regular process,” McNutt says. But KNAW President José van Dijck says the process will be “just as rigorous as always.”

I think it’s truly remarkable. I know of no similar example in any academy.