Michiel Kolman leads the way

Growing up I have always had a passion for science and in particular the stars and galaxies: how can you not be in awe when you look up at the sky at night? That brought me to New York in the 1980s for my PhD studies in astronomy. Living in New York City was exciting but there was also a grim side of crime and the AIDS crisis. I was very impressed by the sense of community among the LGBTIQ+ New Yorkers, united by e.g. Act Up or Gay Men’s Health Crisis.   This planted the seed for how I could contribute something to our community and I was happy that the opportunity with Workplace Pride came along. And with Academia@WP it all falls into place: my passion for science and sense of community for LGBTIQ+ researchers, staff, and students. Exciting to contribute to a more LGBTIQ+ inclusive environment at universities and research organizations, and to queer the curriculum and research agenda as well!”  

Academia@WP supports the overarching objectives of WP: “we aim for all LGBTIQ+ employees to be themselves at work and fulfill their fullest potential while embracing their true identity. This applies to the staff, faculty and also the students at the Academia@WP members. The students are of particular interest: if we can instill an LGBTIQ+ inclusive mindset during their studies, then they are particularly well equipped when entering the workforce”.In the last couple of years, Academia@WP has seen incredible growth in the WP membership from academia and research institutes and now we have as members Leiden, LUMC, Delft, Tilburg, NWO, Saxion, TNO, Erasmus and Nijmegen, while the VU in Amsterdam just announced they are in the process of joining. 

Universities have two important missions around education and research and at Academia@WP we support both. For example, we addressed the curriculum that has typically been shaped by straight, cisgender, white males and through ‘queering the curriculum’ we aim to add the queer perspective. We also address the position of international LGBTIQ+ students at our universities and universities of Applied Science.

On the research side, we work closely with the Workplace Pride chair at Leiden University, prof. Jojanneke van der Toorn: last year we supported the academic conference that she organized and this year a symposium on Pride ERGs (employee resource groups) from an academic perspective. We also collaborated on several OpEd articles in Dutch newspapers, radio interviews, and other media representations to further the discussions around LGBTIQ+ workplace inclusion. 

This year we were involved in the opening of the Academia@WP year in September 2022 in Leiden and we also be involved in Purple Friday together with Student Pride Netherlands. 

Mission/Vision of Academia@WP: 

  • To contribute to academic and research workplaces in which all staff, students and faculty members belong and can be themselves.
  • To acknowledge that Academic and Research organisations work differently than other organisations. Leverage this unique starting point to bring us together.
  • Academia@WP contributes to knowledge generation and dissemination, in coordination with the work of the WP Chair. 

Academia@WP Goals 2022:

  • Conduct a needs survey among participants in the first quarter to find out what is needed to keep the community active 
  • Strengthen the community by organising at least one per quarter joint activity. This can be a webinar or a live session at a location.
  • Involve all layers of the academic world in the activities and consciously call attention to this.

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