June 21, 2024

Statement - Leopoldina criticizes discrimination against women in science

Statement – Leopoldina criticizes discrimination against women in science

National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina (Image Alliance / dpa / Wolfgang Kom)
For the advancement of women in science, the authors of Opinion Among other things, the allocation of research funds more closely tied the achievement of gender equality goals. They are also calling for more permanent research jobs, better mentoring for women and more support for young families.
Historian and co-author Ute Frevert: “In order to encourage talented women to pursue a scientific career, structures and working conditions must be created that are collaborative, non-hierarchical, flexible in terms of time, and not sexist.”

Male dominance as a structural problem

Leopoldina reports that only a quarter of universities and colleges are headed by women. Although more than half of the students are female at the beginning of their studies, the proportion of women in professorial or management positions in universities, academies and institutes is much lower. Only every fourth professor or director of a university is occupied by a woman.

The study identifies several structural problems: men continue to dominate management positions, institutional decision-making bodies, and networks. There is a bias towards women and a lower appreciation of their research subjects. Furthermore, there are very few female role models and the division of labor in partnerships that is often still traditional. Women especially suffer from this because of the lack of assistance with childcare and the care of relatives.

Many women leave science after completing their Ph.D.

All of this contributes to the fact that young women are much more inclined than young men to decide whether to continue their scientific career after completing their Ph.D. For example, women are almost equal to men when it comes to doctoral studies. Only less than a third of those who have just completed their qualification are women, and this underrepresentation increases with each career step.

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Leopoldina sees the development in the management of independent research groups and junior professors as positive. The proportion of women here is close to 50 percent. In order for this development to also affect the future professorship, the politicians and the university administration must continue to vigorously promote gender equality.
Follow the goals.

Women are also underrepresented in Leopoldina. Only 16 percent of the members are female.

This message was broadcast on Deutschlandfunk on September 15, 2022.