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Time for change

Women are increasingly assuming leadership positions in German research. However, the statistics show there is still room for improvement.

Johannes Göbel, 07.02.2020
Strong research requires women’s expertise.
Strong research requires women’s expertise. © SundGo -

Women in leadership positions: positive trend

Since 1980, in Germany, the proportion of professorships held by women has risen from roughly 5 to approximately 25%. Today far more women also work in leadership positions in non-university research institutions: the leader here is the Max Planck Society with a women’s share of over 25%. Nevertheless, women are significantly underrepresented in top jobs in the research sector.

Many women work part-time

According to She Figures, an EU gender equality survey, the share of female researchers working part-time in Germany is especially high at 31.2% (compared to 18.3% for men). There are only more part-time female researchers in the Netherlands (34.8%) and Switzerland (45.6%); the EU average is 13%.

Problem of precarious employment

According to She Figures, Germany ranks 10th EU-wide when it comes to the share of female researchers in precarious employment relationships (for example, holding short-term work contracts) with a proportion of 11.8% (compared with 7.4% for men). There has been increasing protest from women and men against the general trend towards temporary work contracts in the research sector. Thus, for example, a 2019 petition to restrict temporary contracts in research received roughly 17,250 signatures.


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