12 charts on equal opportunities in the Max Planck Society and in research worldwide
Women take off
Numerous positions have been filled with outstanding female researchers through the Max Planck career programs: The Lise Meitner Excellence Program has resulted in 19 excellent female research group leaders to date. BOOST! has led to the advancement of 50 women. Other programs are Minerva Fast Track, Sign Up! and various mentoring formats. Together they provide opportunities for the best women in their field.
Structural gender equality: By participating in the Horizon 2020 project LeTSGEPs (2020-2024), the Max Planck Society is exploring new paths to promote gender equality. Together with eight European science organizations, it is pursuing the goal of implementing gender budgeting strategies – concepts of gender-equitable budget management – in the science community.
Is only one gender able to advocate gender equality?
In the Max Planck Society, the function of the Gender Equality Officer is regulated analogously to the Federal Gender Equality Act: Only women are entitled to be and to vote for Max Planck Gender Equality Officers. No doubt, even today women suffer more discrimination in science than men do. But is this really a reason why not all genders can work together to promote gender equality?
In Germany, the gender pay gap grows with the level of education. Women without academic degrees earn on average only 84% of their male colleagues’ salary. Women with an academic degree even receive only 74%. In the OECD average, the imbalance between male and female income is not affected by qualifications: The salaries of women at all levels of education are 76-78%, according to age.
Gender competence is needed for target group-oriented technology development, e.g. knowledge of the gender-specific division of labour. With this understanding, the efficiency and sustainability of water projects in Africa could be increased considerably, because it led to the involvement of the female population in the construction of wells. There, water collection is the task of women, and they know the soil and its water yields.
It might depend on their gender whether a candidate with the same publication background is judged by the same appointment committee as someone who “researches beyond their own horizon” or as someone who is “leaning towards popular science”. Numerous possible distortion effects - halo effect, mini-me, projection, etc. – threaten selection processes in science that are based on excellence and fair.
Few people register as “diverse”". The latest figures originate from the five largest cities in Baden-Württemberg, where only six people have had their registration changed to “diverse”". However, a ZEIT query comes up with a 2.1% share of non-binary persons in Germany. One reason for this number gap is probably that the authorities demand biological evidence. For the purposes of the study, the indicator is a person’s social self-image.
Being lost in the gender data gap can be really dangerous for women: Heart attacks are less frequently recognized for women, because medical textbooks only describe symptoms typical for men. There is also a lack of data on women’s safety in traffic: The standard dummy is modelled after the male physique. Only in recent times have “female” dummies been used in tests – usually in the passenger seat!
There is no gender-specific difference in cognitive abilities. Nevertheless, men and women are interested in different professions. As a result, in 30 to 40% of people skills and interests do not match well. This makes it particularly important for a successful career that the interests for professional fields, for example through Girls’ and Boys’ Day, are supported independently of gender.
The Matilda Effect is the systematic denial of the contribution of female scientists in research and the appropriation of their work by male colleagues. One example is Rosalind Franklin's (1920-1958) research results to clarify the double helix structure of DNA. Three of her colleagues used her results without being asked, received the Nobel Prize in 1962 and did not mention their deceased colleague at all.
Some public figures had to leave their offices because of sexualized misconduct. Some claim that the accusations were made just to discredit them. In most cases, it is testimony against testimony. Apart from the fact that very few men are prominent public figures, the number of false accusations is greatly overestimated. For the offence of rape, the proportion is 3% of the offences reported in Germany.
The variety of terms makes it clear how little gender identity and sexual orientation can be condensed into two fixed categories. New categories make phenomena visible by naming them. This is a prerequisite for claiming rights. At the same time, the implementation of new categories bears the danger of new stereotyping.