Africa & Science – Afrika & Wissenschaft – Afrique & Science

Nr. 00265- 9th Jan. 2024 – Weekly Newspaper devoted to Science & Technology in Africa ** Pour la promotion de l'esprit scientifique en Afrique

Equal opportunities for women academics: Tapping academic potential (Germany)

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation emphatically campaigns for equal opportunities for men and women in research. It aims to draw the best minds in academia to Germany for a research stay and thus to create a world-spanning network of excellent researchers. However, we have to face the fact that the percentage of women amongst both the applicants and those sponsored is much lower than that of their male colleagues, even though we do not apply quotas for specific countries or disciplines in our sponsorship programmes. The sole criteria are academic record and excellence. Furthermore, the more advanced the career stage, the greater the problem becomes – a phenomenon not singular to the Humboldt Foundation but found throughout the world. The consequence of this is a huge waste of qualifications, innovative potential, excellence, perspectives and experience.

Applications and nominations from women explicitly welcomed

The Humboldt Foundation would like to tap academic potential for its network irrespective of gender. In order to exploit outstanding talent in science and research to the full the Foundation, therefore, explicitly welcomes applications and nominations from highly-qualified female researchers. Likewise, we should like to encourage women academics in Germany to internationalise their research teams by becoming a host and including junior researchers from abroad.

Family-friendly programme design

The Foundation itself continually strives to construct sponsorship programmes that are attractive to female academics, and to break down the mobility barriers for women researchers and young families. This is how we hope to enable women and carers with families to participate in our sponsorship programmes.

We have developed a family-friendly sponsorship portfolio over a long period, and the academics we sponsor are eligible for allowances for marital partners and children under 18 accompanying them to Germany. Time spent on child-rearing or other forms of care can be taken into account in the application process and fellowships can be extended or interrupted if a child is born during the sponsorship period.

In addition to this, the Humboldt Foundation provides advice and information on equality issues and opportunities for combining family life and academic career in the context of the EU-wide EURAXESS Network of internationally mobile researchers in which the Humboldt Foundation is the German partner. On the portal under the headings “Information for Women Academics”, “Research stay with a family” and “Dual Career” you will find details on specific funding and continuing education programmes, networks and other platforms for information sharing on these issues.

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