While searching for funding for a bootcamp in Japan, TU Delft materials science engineering master’s student Fay de Waal found herself in a network of women who help each other. Women in many different cities united in a network. Many different cities except for in Delft. She took the plunge and set up Librae with her friend Simone Hilhorst.
Isn’t it crazy that there is no network for female students at TU Delft?
“Well I suppose it’s not something that anybody thought about at TU Delft. There are recruitment events for female students such as Techniek op Hakken (technology on heels), and the female scientific staff are united in Dewis. There was just no network to inspire and support female students. That’s why in September of this year, Simone and I created the Librae women’s network.”
What are you planning to do?
“We want all female students at TU Delft to get the most out of their student time, become more self-confident and be well prepared for the labour market. We will have a kick-off dinner for 50 students on 28 November. Eighteen female role models will be there too. They are TU Delft alumni, entrepreneurs, academics and women from industry. They are very interested in the network and want to share their knowledge and experience.”
How did you choose these role models?
“Janneke Niessen helped us choose them. She is responsible for the Inspiring Fifty and chooses 50 pioneering women in every region, country or continent. She invited 15 women from the Dutch top 50 for the dinner. They were all keen straightaway. It’s striking that women really want to help each other and this is a great start.”
What is your first point of action?
“The dinner. This is really Librae’s kick-off. During the dinner we will invite students to share what they feel they need with us. This will help us define our statutes and, after that, to register as an official non-profit organisation.”
Are you getting any support from TU Delft for this?
“Not yet, but I have not yet contacted TU Delft about this. I have a meeting planned with Rinze Benedictus, the diversity officer, soon. We hope that TU Delft will recognise us as a network.”
How did you come up with the name Librae?
“Initially we looked for a name which incorporated the English word ‘feminine’. But then thought that this wouldn’t match our goals. We wanted to emphasis gender equality and diversity, and a name with the word feminine in it immediately gives it a frivolous feeling. As our network’s core beliefs include honesty, equality and justice, we thought about Lady Justice’s weighing scales. A translation of scales is libra, but we didn’t want to use that word because of the association with horoscopes. So we turned it into the plural librae. Apart from being plural, it is also the name of a star constellation which reflects our field well.
What are you hoping to achieve in the next three years with Librae?
“Our dream is to create a platform in which we bring students and mentors together. They could be role models who coach senior students, seniors who support first year students, and first year students who work with secondary school pupils. If we want more women in technology, we need role models.”