Equal Opportunities & the Balance between Academic Work and Family Life
Career Advancement and Equal Opportunities in the Collaborative Research Centre (Sonderforschungsbereich)
The SFB is dedicated to supporting the career advancement of women and ensuring the existence of equal opportunities. The planned measures have been designed in the form of a supplementation to the well-structured offer of the equal opportunities office at the University of Siegen.
In addition to this, the SFB also offers specialist funding options and coaching offers to academic staff at all qualification levels. Highly qualified young academics should be supported with their careers and their pathways into management positions. In this respect, the international orientation of the SFB is recognised by prioritising the provision of support to academic expertise in the use of the English language.
The offer includes coaching measures as well as seminars and individual coaching sessions on career advancement with the following points of focus:
Coaching for professors:
A professional framework for addressing challenges and problems, targeted support when reflection on one’s personal position, gender-based, specialist requirements.
Core areas of expertise for doctoral and post-doctoral students
The provision of qualified support to young academics in the areas of career advancement, self-management, research funding, the securing of third-party funding, training and the strengthening of international core academic competencies, graduation coaching for doctoral students.
International mentoring specific to women
Extension of the mentoring programme at the University of Siegen with the goal of achieving the international networking of young academics
The Balance between Academic Work and Family Life
With regards to supporting families, the SFB works very closely with the Family Services Office, and makes use of the childcare services that are on offer at the University of Siegen. Moreover, if required, an additional, flexible care offering can also be organised. This aims to ensure that academic staff can complete their work in the best possible way.
The SFB guarantees comprehensive support to pregnant women, and should family members require assistance, support is provided in the form of the completion of specific tasks by research assistants in the scope of the structures that have been established accordingly by the SFB.
The Family Services Office of the University of Siegen will be pleased to assist you.
Although the advantages of the equal participation of men and women in the academic system are largely acknowledged, it is still the case that a considerable amount of academic potential goes unused. Women are under-represented in leading academic positions.
As can be seen, the proportion of women in the academic system decreases significantly, the more advanced the level of qualification or the position becomes. One reason for this is the so-called “Leaky Pipeline”: although more young women start studying for a degree than men, the proportion of women on the career ladder in universities gradually falls away. Over the course of their careers, women still find themselves facing an invisible barrier known as a “glass ceiling”, which despite their high level of qualification, prevents them from entering positions of leadership, while male colleagues with a comparable qualification generally ‘succeed’ in advancing to senior positions. In addition to the failure to access informal networks, this can be seen to be caused by gender stereotyping, according to which women are seen to be less suitable for senior positions because of their supposed family commitments and other characteristics that are attributed to them. Another factor of relevance is the continued existence of all-male social groups that structurally exclude women.
The “equality of men and women in the academic world” has therefore been anchored in § 1 of the statutes of the DFG since 2002.
This is because equality and equal opportunities have a variety of benefits: only with such an approach is it possible to make full use of the existing potential for talent and innovation. In addition to this, due to the variety of perspectives, experiences and expertise of their members, working groups which are diverse have a positive impact on the quality of the research and are therefore of considerable added value.
The goals of the equal opportunity work of the DFG – a balanced ratio between the genders in the academic system and balancing an academic career with family commitments – therefore not only serve the advancement of diversity and equal opportunities in the academic system. They also boost the attractiveness of Germany as an academic location, particularly for highly qualified young academics.
The reasons for the under-representation of women in the academic world range from problems surrounding balancing family commitments with an academic career due to insufficient childcare services, to specific structural circumstances of the academic system which makes the academic world less attractive to women. These include gender-specific differences in the provision of support to research, as shown by the results of a study project on behalf of the DFG on “Gender Effects in Research Funding”.
Further information, data and facts on equal opportunities for men and women in the world of academia are available on the homepage of the DFG at:
DFG guidelines on supporting equal opportunities in the academic world and the DFG flyer on equal opportunities and career advancement
Ehler Voss, Dr.