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Nr. 99, 06.07.2019  voriger  Übersicht  weiter

Future Gender Equality Concept

Kiel University is well on its way towards gender equality in teaching, studies and research. But the goal - equal opportunities in all areas - has still not been achieved yet. This should change with a sustainable concept for the future.


A female professor - here Birgit Friedl, professor of controlling at the CAU - in front of a full lecture hall: such an image can not yet be taken for granted at Kiel University. The equal opportunity concept for the future should change this. Credit: Haacks

It is a phenomenon: there are significantly more women than men participating in history of art or also in medicine as students in the seminars and are successful right up to their doctoral thesis. But they are mainly taught by men, noted Kiel Universityís Equal Opportunity Commissioner, Dr Iris Werner. This raises a number of questions. Why are a disproportionately high number of female scientists lost during the phase following completion of their doctoral thesis and before habilitation at Kiel University, and also in the entire German system? Why donít more women apply for a professorship? And what can we do to change this? It is questions such as these that the Central Office for Gender Equality, Diversity and Family at Kiel University wants to find answers for. The Future Gender Equality Concept is designed to help find long-term solutions.

"Equality has been a very important issue at the university since 2008," said Werner. "With the application for federal and state funding from the Programme for Women Professors I (PP I), gender equality work at the CAU was systematically and comprehensively addressed for the first time. At the same time, university-wide goals and measures were formulated into a concept for creating equal opportunities."

This also happened in the framework of the successful application for the Programme for Women Professors II (PP II). The goals and measures have been repeatedly tested, improved and now further developed into a concept for the future. With this concept, the university has successfully applied for the Programme for Women Professors III, and has been granted funding from the federal and state governments for the third time. In the multi-page paper, the university analysed itself right down to all the faculties, highlighted the key facts and figures, made comparisons and identified critical vulnerabilities - but at the same time listed measures for greater equality.

A major focus is on habilitations (postdoctoral lecture qualifications): while the numbers of women and men among students, doctoral researchers, scientific and assistant professors (introduced in 2002) are balanced, the proportion of women completing habilitations has decreased - and this applies to most faculties. "This is a big problem, in the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, amongst others," said Werner. The proportion of female professors in all faculties is too low. "Here, only the Faculty of Theology has reached the 40 percent mark."

What can be done to change this? "There are a number of general and specific measures," according to Werner. On the one hand, there should be internal equality plans at all faculties in the near future, agreed upon with the University Board, which identify the subject-specific strengths and weaknesses, and thereby enable individual measures. Thus, the university hopes for more effective management of the gender equality efforts. In addition, the establishment of a central gender consulting position started in June 2019, to advise current and future collaborative research projects on matters of gender equality work, and support the coordination and implementation of the gender equality measures.

"We must also create an environment in which female scientists want to pursue a career at the university," said Werner. This includes equal opportunity and transparent staff selection procedures, as well as family-friendly and secure working conditions. "Likewise, we need a working environment without discrimination or misogynist jokes, but instead with respectful cooperation, an appreciation of people and their achievements, good support and more," said the Equal Opportunity Commissioner, who with her team and the university management is currently working on guidelines against sexual harassment and violence at the university.
Werner is certain: "Women need strategic support through a network, similar to what men have." For this reason, the "via:mento" mentoring programme developed in 2008 is now offered permanently, and - in the current planning - an international component should be added. "We want to use this to support international female scientists who are working here, but also the female scientists from Kiel who want to work abroad," said Werner.

All these and other measures are intended to increase and consolidate the proportion of women and female professors at the CAU. Ultimately, this benefits everyone, said Werner. Because diversity also means having a wide range of talents. And this can only benefit the teaching.

Jennifer Ruske
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