Top female professors replace “dead white men” on Leiden Univ. walls

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Portraits of 116 male scientists and 1 female scientist replaced by 99 portraits of female professors at Leiden University (Photo: Marc de Haan/Angels in Action). (Portraits of 116 male scientists and 1 female scientist replaced by 99 portraits of female professors at Leiden University (Photo: Marc de Haan/Angels in Action))

Four female professors, united under Angels in Action, is calling on the University of Leiden to make more rooms for female scientists on its walls. They did so by replacing the 117 portraits of "dead white men" and one woman hanging on the Senate Chamber of the university's Academy Building with 99 portraits of female professors on Tuesday.

Almost all university buildings feature portraits of their scholars, intended to show off the university's accomplishments and give inspiration for future generations.

But according to the Angels, these portraits consists "almost without exception" of "dead white men". They call it understandable that universities want to show off their famous and celebrated figureheads. But they wonder whether focusing so much on the past, where women did not have much of a change of becoming scientists, is not "interfering with the appeal of a scientific career for people who do not fit the stereotype of the white male scientist."

The Angels are calling for a "desirable, more inclusive image of science

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