Equality of Opportunity
At Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Freie Universität Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin, and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, achieving equal opportunities across genders is a strategic task that cuts across all of their activities. Many stakeholders work to achieve this, from the university administration to all decentralized levels.
Full-time and part-time women’s representatives and gender equality officers also play an important role in this. Their work covers a very wide range of topics. They participate in processes aimed at hiring student assistants or to fill a professorship, provide advice in conflict situations, participate in committees, and are involved in processes of change, such as when degree programs are revised or agreements on human resource development are drafted. Shared interests and cross-university matters having to do with equal opportunity are pooled together within the state conference of women’s representatives and gender equality officers of Berlin’s higher education institutions and the university medical centers in the state of Berlin. This body, made up of full-time women’s representatives and gender equality officers, has been active since 1991. It offers a forum for dialogue, cooperation, and joint action.
Equality Affects the Quality of Research, Teaching, and Administration
The universities in Berlin and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin have published a document outlining their general equality standards, the Allgemeine Gleichstellungsstandards. It forms an important basis for the joint development of their equality policies. These kinds of standards are important and even necessary, as a successful equality strategy yields significant added value. Equality affects the quality of research, teaching, and administration, since when people are equal, all skills and abilities are recognized and many different talents can be included. With this in mind, the general equality standards for Berlin were agreed upon with the aim of breaking down structural barriers that affect women, placing equality goals and targets on a solid footing at all levels, and assigning responsibility for implementing the standards and for fleshing them out in concrete detail to managers. To integrate a diverse range of perspectives into research and teaching activities and realize goals associated with gender equality policies at the universities, relevant findings from the field of gender studies are included.
The percentage of professorships at Berlin’s universities that are held by women has risen markedly in the past decade. To provide support to women whose professional goal is to become professors, the ProFiL. Professionalization of Women in Research and Teaching: Mentoring – Training – Networking program has been in place since 2004. This joint project between Technische Universität Berlin, Freie Universität, and Humboldt-Universität has supported more than 450 female scholars and scientists since it was first founded. Mentoring, specifically tailored seminars, and strategic networking provide program participants with one year of support in advancing their professional development and preparing for the future leadership and management roles associated with a professorship. The program for female scientists and researchers in university medicine that is based at the Mentoring Competence Center of Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin is also committed to the same idea of networking and dialogue.
The universities in Berlin have long-standing experience with joint research alliances. This experience has been the impetus for the institutions to establish a dialogue for optimum discussion in the case of research applications regarding the integration of equality aspects and to provide support for the implementation of individual measures. This gives those submitting applications for research projects at all locations relevant places to turn for advice. Individual measures – such as those aimed at providing professional support to female scholars and scientists (including specifically junior ones) – are also open to all members of the cross-institution alliances, regardless of the specific institution to which they belong. The participants involved in providing advice on equality work continuously to expand and further develop their cooperation.