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Attitudes toward Diversity, Objectivity and Meritocracy in Science (ADOMiS): Multiple barriers to academic excellence

Prof. Dr. Mirjam Fischer

Prof. Dr. Mirjam Fischer
Image Credit: MF

Research Group Leader: Prof. Dr. Mirjam Fischer, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Multiple barriers to scientific excellence: A comparative study of academic career trajectories

Among researchers, women, racialized minorities, working class people and people with disabilities remain numerically underrepresented; this is exacerbated with increasing seniority. If science does not want to continue to underpin this existing marginalization with one-sided knowledge, different perspectives must be included as an integral part of knowledge production at universities. So far, the focus for solutions has been disproportionately on access and less on the long-term retention and promotion of the careers of diverse researchers. This project investigates the retrospective and planned careers of researchers at BUA institutions using a representative survey, which is inclusive of the different degrees of seniority (doctoral students, mid-level faculty, professors). The survey will map career paths, document mental health and burnout rates, and record attitudes towards "diversity, objectivity and meritocracy in science (DOMWiss survey)." These attitudes form the normative framework in which unequal career development and prospective career planning are embedded. Experiences of discrimination and the attitudes of marginalized researchers themselves (e.g., internalized stigmatization, negative self-image) are taken into account as psychological mechanisms of marginalization. The context dependency of social inequality and the justice mandate of intersectional research are central to this project. The complexity of social positioning is reflected in the participatory development of German-language survey instruments to measure marginalized and dominant social positions.


Mirjam Fischer is a sociologist with a research focus on sexual and gender diversity in Europe. In terms of content, Mirjam Fischer deals with structural inequality between lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* and queer (LGBTQ*) people and the cis heterosexual majority society; she has published in the areas of family, child well-being, social relationships and labor market discrimination. Mirjam Fischer also deals with methodological topics related to quantitative surveys of LGBTQ* people in depth (see the Special Issue Measuring LGBT Populations in the Journal of Official Statistics). In addition to her function as head of a BUA-funded junior research group Diversity and Gender at the Humboldt University in Berlin, Mirjam Fischer is a research associate at the Institute for Empirical-Analytical Research at Goethe University Frankfurt am Main in the DFG-funded research project “Reconfiguration and Internalization of Social Structure (RISS)”.

Most recently, Mirjam Fischer was PI of the BMBF-funded research project "Gender and Sexual Diversity in Focus: Participation and Diversity (SOEP-GeSMin, 2020-2023)" together with Simon Kühne (Bielefeld University). The project goals included improving the data infrastructure on LGBTQ* people in Germany and gaining a reliable knowledge base on the living situation of this group. In addition, Fischer has been involved in a number of large data collections, including a boost sample of LGB households to the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) in 2019. During her doctorate, Fischer conducted a representative web survey of same-sex and opposite-sex couples carried out in the Netherlands, based on a sample from the Dutch population registers.

Prof. Fischer studied media and communication sciences at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, social sciences at the University of Amsterdam, where she also completed her doctorate on the topic "Free to live their lives as they wish? The social well-being gap between persons in same-sex and mixed-sex relationships in Europe” in 2019. Prior to her employment at the Humboldt University in Berlin and the Goethe University in Frankfurt, Fischer worked at the Health Equity Institute of the San Francisco State University, at the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin and at the University of Cologne.

Contact: mirjam.fischer@hu-berlin.de