If a woman wants to make a career in research, she will still have a harder time than her male colleagues, at least judging by the statistics: among the 276 Directors and Scientific Members of the Max Planck Society, only 9.1 percent are women. 27.3 percent of the heads of the Max Planck junior research groups are women. In the 224 research groups (W2), women are somewhat more common: they make up 28.1 percent of the scientists.
In order to improve the working conditions of young female scientists in particular, the Senate of the Max Planck Society designed the C3 Special Programme, which was later continued as the W2 Special Programme. Since 2007, the Minerva Programme, which it is also called, has taken in 30 female scientists, each with an excellent track record. The aim of the programme is to qualify these women for a leadership position in five years time, within the framework of a W2 contract.
The selection process is rigorous: the candidates are nominated by the respective Max Planck institute and then selected in cooperation with external assessors. In total, 83 female scientists have benefited from the Minerva Programme so far, more than 55 currently have a job that will serve as a stepping stone to senior positions. Nine Minerva Groups started their work two years ago.
Temporary employment contracts, work on weekends and holidays – it is still hard for young female scientists to combine family life and a career. That is why the Max Planck Society aims to provide a family-friendly work environment with places in kindergarten and day care, as well as flexible working hours. We have already been given a certificate for our exemplary, family-friendly staff policy twice by the German non-profit organisation berufundfamilie.