Credit: Kai Matuschewski

Focus on equal opportunity

Talent, creativity and passion - those are the qualities the Max Planck Society relies on. The Society supports employees irrespective of their gender, nationality, religion, disabilities, age, cultural background or sexual identity. After all, the basis for the cutting-edge research conducted at over 80 Max Planck Institutes lies in diversity.


To challenge and promote talent: that is the strategic goal of all the efforts of the Max Planck Society to raise the professional profile of its employees. The Max Planck Society

  • backs equal opportunities for all and acts to implement all requirements aimed at establishing equality and to offer attractive framework conditions
  • focuses continually on career advancement and pays special attention to its female scientists: they are still heavily under-represented at managerial levels, and their future prospects are less clear than those of their male colleagues
  • strives to offer structured support to young scientists in order to help them achieve their individual career goals
  • builds bridges to facilitate the reconciliation of family life, leisure and career and to bring about more women in managerial positions
  • has made a voluntary commitment: In a period of five years (currently to 2017), it is aiming to increase the proportion of women in managerial positions on three different pay groups by five percentage points in each case.

How we are building bridges

For the long term, the Max Planck Society has signed up to the overarching goal that it should be possible to embark on qualification paths in science without encountering any gender-specific barriers: because special career advancement mechanisms or qualification elements for female scientists contain the fundamental risk that existing structures will be left unchanged; changing them, however, in a way that creates space for diversity, is both motivation and aspiration alike to the Max Planck Society.

This is also documented by the "Opportunities" Committee chaired by Vice President Angela Friederici. The objective is to work with the scientific Sections to implement an expanded equal opportunity strategy on a lasting basis and to smooth the way for cultural change. As the internally-commissioned analysis of the European and international scientific landscape by Prof. Nina Dethloff (University of Bonn, 2015) has shown, such a cultural change has a good prospect of succeeding if it is supported and driven by all functional and hierarchical levels including Institute Management.

The Max Planck Society offers

  • Childcare places in collaboration with day nurseries; contract with family service companies to arrange for care (including care of the elderly); financial subsidies for childcare during conferences; parent-child-offices
  • Family allowances for scholarship holders
  • Participation in further education seminars from the central range of events
  • Dual Career Service: help with and support for dual science career couples for appointments to positions on Directors' Boards
  • Opportunities for part-time work and teleworking
  • Central Equal Opportunities Officer and local Equal Opportunities Officers at the Institutes
  • Guide to constructive interaction between male and female scientists
  • Participation of Max Planck Institutes in Girls´ Day, holiday programmes for girls, labs for school-children, experiments for pre-school children

Especially for female scientists

  • Pool of managerial posts in the central programme for Research Groups
  • W3 programme for supporting outstanding female scientists in managerial positions
  • Minerva-FemmeNet: a mentoring network primarily for female doctoral students but also for female undergraduates, postdocs and habilitation candidates
  • Elisabeth-Schiemann-Kolleg: a network for female scientists after their postdoc phase, embedded in the Chemistry, Physics & Technology Section
  • Option to extend fixed-term employment contracts in the event of female scientists becoming pregnant and giving birth
  • Career advancement: the MPG offers selected female scientists (postdocs) the opportunity to participate in the seminar programme "Sign up! Career Building"
  • Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard Foundation: supports talented, young female doctoral students from the field of natural sciences and medicine who have children
  • The MPG uses AcademiaNet: The database maintains portraits of excellent female scientists in all technical disciplines, thereby raising women’s visibility. It can be used by research institutions and governing bodies, journalists and conference organizers and for creating networks between women.
  • The Minerva Fast Track pilot project by the Chemistry, Physics & Technology Section gives outstanding female scientists the chance to plan their careers for the long term after completing their doctorates. Following directly on the dissertation or after the first postdoc position, funding is provided for a maximum of three years with the objective that the scientist will then apply for an Open-Topic Max Planck Research Group.
  • We are partners of the "National Pact for Women in STEM Professions" launched by the German Federal Government in association with political circles, business, science and the media.

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