For several years, ULB has been dedicated to implementing a university-wide policy in favour of gender equality, which it publicizes it as widely as possible. This is fully in line with its core values and the commitments it has made in the past.

The Université libre de Bruxelles was the first university in Belgium to accept female students; it appointed the first female assistant, then the first female professor; and it also had the first women assume the offices of dean and rector. ULB opened the first halls of residence for female students, the first university nursery, and the first family planning centre.

Over time, the University has tirelessly pursued this policy of inclusion by launching concrete initiatives. The most noteworthy among those include:

Main components of ULB’s gender policy

ULB’s internal network of contacts on gender issues has published a charter for gender equality, which summarizes high-priority measures the University has taken to ensure mutual respect between genders. It demonstrates the University’s strong commitment to fight stereotypes and all kinds of discrimination.

Read the charter for gender equality
State of gender equality report

Every year, ULB also publishes a report on the state of gender equality, the result of a thorough process of data collection and summation, carried out under the supervision of Monique Tavernier, who is the University’s contact on gender issues. This tool helps up highlight positive evolutions, put the best initiatives in the spotlight, and identify which points need more attention, allowing the University to adjust its gender policy accordingly.
The reports from previous years are available on demand, by contacting

Tacking sexism and harassment

As part of its gender policy, ULB is also actively fighting sexism and harassment. In this context, ‘link workers’ were designated to receive, listen to, and support any member of the university community who has witnessed or experienced sexual harassment. 

The Center for accompaniment and support in the risks of harassment towards students (cash-e): This place of listening, information and support for all students has the specificity of being independent from the ULB authorities and is managed by professionals in the field.

Visit ULB’s anti-harassment website

STRIGES, the University’s interdisciplinary research structure on gender, equality, and sexuality

ULB’s Academic Council of 29 June 2015 selected a project by STRIGES (the University’s interdisciplinary research structure on gender, equality, and sexuality) to be fully integrated into the activities of the University’s Institute for Human Sciences (MSH). Its spokespeople are David Paternotte and Valérie Piette.
With this integration, teams from seven faculties can increase research synergies, yielding academic and scientific benefits and advancing ULB’s gender equality policy.

Visit the STRIGES website

Specialized master’s in gender studies
In the 2017–2018 academic year, a new specialized master in gender studies (60 credits) was inaugurated in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation. The only one of its kind, it educates students on issues related to gender and sexuality, presenting an interdisciplinary approach that combines theoretical knowledge and practical teachings.

This programme was designed for students from a variety of backgrounds who have already earned a Master’s degree, but also for people with professional experience looking to improve or broaden their skills or reorient their career in this field (selection based on applicant profiles).

This programme was long awaited in French-speaking Belgium, and is organized jointly by the six universities in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation. The coordinating institution is the Université catholique de Louvain.

Master’s in Labour Sciences with a focus on Gender and Inequality

The ‘gender and inequality’ focus of the Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences’ Master in Labour Sciences aims to provide future specialists in equality with the tools, knowledge, and sensitivity required to enable progress in gender equality and fight discrimination.

This focus is organized as part of EGALES (‘Études, genre et actions liées à l’égalité dans la société’), a network involving various universities across Europe.

More information about this programme can be found in the course catalogue.

ULB’s policy on recruitment, appointment, and promotion within the academic staff

Since the 2014–2015 academic year, ULB’s policy on recruitment, appointment, and promotion within the academic staff has provided that the commissions intervening at various stages (scientific commissions, ranking commissions, etc.) must, to the extent possible, have at least one third of their members from each gender.

As for the ‘Cascade’ initiative, which has no equal in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, its purpose is to fight the ‘leaky pipeline’ effect, which refers to the decrease in parity at higher stages of academic careers and is common in Europe, in Belgium, and at the Université libre de Bruxelles.

In order to fight this phenomenon, it was decided that starting in 2016–2017 the rector must ensure that the gender balance among promoted staff members is at least equal to that observed at the lower level of career progression. This measure applies to promotions to the title of professor and full professor (‘professeur’ and ‘professeur ordinaire’). For instance, if women make up 33% of the staff at a certain level (e.g. lecturers), then at least 33% of people promoted to the level above (e.g. professor) must be women.

This ‘Cascade’ initiative reduces the erosion of gender balance in the higher tiers of academic careers, and promotes the development of both women and men’s profiles at the earliest stages of their careers. As an illustration, a short animated video presents this innovative measure.

For more information, read the FAQ on the ‘Cascade’ initiative

EURAXESS Rights action plan

Building on a previously established diagnosis, the Université libre de Bruxelles has adopted a strategy—along with an action plan—for human resources in research, centred around five main topics; this strategy was recognized by the ‘Human Resources Excellence in Research’ award. Among the main priorities is the implementation of ULB’s proactive policy on gender equality.

See ULB’s EURAXESS Rights action plan
Gender parity in candidate lists

ULB’s organic statutes and election regulations include provisions intended to ensure gender parity in candidate lists for the plenary assembly and the Student Council.

Inclusive language

The use of the appropriate feminization rules is applicable within the University, at a minimum in all acts such as vacancies, appointments and contracts.

Only the birth name appears in addressographs, directories, web pages or any other ULB file containing this type of information. The name of the husband or wife is only maintained at the explicit request of the person concerned.

Guidelines have been issued with a view to harmonizing inclusive communication at ULB. They can be used by anyone who wishes to apply them to the texts they write, at least for public documents issued on behalf of the ULB.

Network of contacts on gender

In order to reinforce the implementation of the University’s gender policy and to expand it through local initiatives, a network of contacts on gender with active members in each faculty was created in 2014. Members of departments in ULB’s general administration have also joined the network.

Belgian Pride and ULB

ULB is the first French-speaking university to take part in Belgian Pride, alongside VUB. By parading through the streets of Brussels under the rainbow flag, the two institutions reaffirm their values and commitments in favour of tolerance, freedom, and equality between sexes and genders.

In addition, the annual publication of a charter for gender equality, a report on the state of gender equality and the Report of the Universities of the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles and the F.R.S.-FNRS on the state of gender equality contributes to making the University’s commitments and measures more widely known.

Updated on September 28, 2021