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Tanja van der Lippe

Prof. dr. ir. T. (Tanja) van der Lippe

Brief summary of research over the last 5 years

Tanja van der Lippe is a professor of sociology since 2003. In 2011 she was appointed Research Director and Head of the Department of Sociology at Utrecht University. She is an expert on work-family issues in present-day societies. In her work on the competing time claims of organizations and families, she combines sociological, economic, and psychological perspectives. Following up on her initial research on interdependencies between work and family life – which was designated as one of Utrecht University’s High Potential projects – she proceeded to investigate cooperation challenges relating to efficiency problems and time pressure in particular. As Kanter Award finalist with the 2012 publication in Social Science Research, she and her colleagues broke new ground by demonstrating that family and workplace claims are not necessarily competitive, but can be complementary. Especially in high-performance organizations, the combined support from one’s partner at home and one’s manager at work helps men and women cope with the pressure of their dual tasks.

Her findings explain why families need help reconciling home and workplace demands, and highlight the role that employers must play in addressing these issues. Her research has also yielded a new understanding of how aspects of the societal institutional context (e.g. international differences in gender inequality) influence individual work and family choices. In 2013, van der Lippe won an ERC Advanced grant for her innovative approach to elucidate investments in a sustainable workforce in Europe by examining the multi-level interactions of individual employees in organizations and societies. She garnered praise for putting the organization more firmly on the research agenda.

Van der Lippe has achieved her breakthroughs by linking societal, family, and individual levels of decision making not only in her theoretical work, but also in the way she empirically examines their relationship. She is known for her challenging, state-of-the-art multi-method data collections combining large-scale survey techniques with rigorous experimental study designs. She has initiated large international data collections on work-family issues, for instance as lead investigator of the 2015 ERC-survey of employees, management, and HR managers in 270 organizations across 9 European countries.

Van der Lippe has led exceedingly productive collaborations and spearheaded networks of work-family researchers from around the world. For instance, she coordinated the European Science Foundation program on Gender inequality (2008-2012), which gained her wide international recognition. As Director of the Interuniversity Center of Social Science Theory and Methodology (ICS) at Utrecht University since 2011, she is closely involved in, and very successful at, training the next generation of international researchers. In 2016 she acted as honorary promoter of Harvard scholar Robert Sampson, and connects to his renowned work on how social processes in neighborhoods affect public order issues in large cities.

International visibility, activities, prizes, scholarships etc.

Tanja van der Lippe has published 96 peer-reviewed papers (64 international; 32 national), 40 chapters in edited books, and eleven books with well-known publishers (Edward Elgar, Palgrave MacMillan, Aldine). Her papers have appeared in top-level journals, including Annual Review of Sociology, Journal of Marriage and Family, and Journal of Management. The significance of her work has been acknowledged at the highest levels; she is an elected member of the European Academy of Sociology (2010), the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW, 2014), and the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities (KHMW, 2013).

Van der Lippe enjoys an excellent international reputation and has been awarded major grants (€11m so far) for her research in highly competitive national and international schemes. In addition to her ERC Advanced, she has been PI and coordinator of large European Science Foundation-funded projects comparing gender inequality (2008-2012) and the changing relationship between work and care in Europa (2006-2014). Further, she served as PI on a program on the quality of life in a changing Europe, funded by the European Commission (FP6, 2006-2009).

She has demonstrated her leadership and vision in her capacity as Research Director and Head of the Sociology Department of Utrecht University by securing top research evaluations for the sociology program. She is closely involved in the leadership of the national graduate school, the ICS. She has supervised 18 PhD’s to completion; another 13 PhD’s are currently working under her guidance. In 2012 and 2013, her students were awarded three NWO Research Talent grants.

Her excellent reputation and international visibility are also evident from her visiting professorships, for instance at Oxford (2007), and her regular appearances as invited keynote speaker at major international events, including the annual conference of the American Sociological Association in (2012). Her peers in the field have placed her in key gatekeeping positions in science: she is a member of the Editorial Board of Oxford Bibliographies in Sociology; a European expert on gender issues for the International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences; and was elected member of the executive committee of the Work and Family Researchers Network, the main network on work-family research worldwide.

As consultant to the Dutch Government, in 2015/2016 she advised the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands (SER) on ‘Work and life in the future’. She is closely involved in the activities of other key policy guidance bodies in the Netherlands, such as the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP), and on the board of governors of the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research (NIVEL). Van der Lippe contributes to the public debate by writing for broader audiences and appearing as an expert on national and international media.

5 key publications

  1. Van der Heijden, F.I., Poortman, A. & Van der Lippe, T. (2016). Children’s postdivorce residence arrangements and parental experienced time pressure. Journal of Marriage and Family, 78, 468-481.
  2. Van der Lippe, T., De Ruijter, J.M.P., De Ruijter, E.H.M., & Raub, W. (2011). Persistent inequalities in time use between higher educated men and women: a detailed look at the influence of economic circumstances, policies, and culture. European Sociological Review, 27, 164-179.
  3. Ten Brummelhuis, L.L., Van der Lippe, T., & Kluwer, E. (2009). Family involvement and employee helping Behavior. Journal of Management, 20, 1-25.
  4. Van der Lippe, T., & Peters, P. (Eds). (2007). Competing claims in work and family life. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
  5. Van der Lippe, T. & Van Dijk, L. (2002). Comparative research on women’s employment. Annual Review of Sociology, 28, 221-41.