A call to those who care about Europe’s science

[Nature, 8 Oct 2014]

A call to those who care about Europe’s science

Better collaboration is a laudable goal, but that alone will not be enough to fix the damage caused by Europe’s falling investment, says Amaya Moro-Martin.

08 October 2014

When the European Parliament asked its proposed new commissioner for research what the continent should do about the state of its science, Carlos Moedas pledged greater cooperation between member states. Moedas might not have noticed, but we are already uniting: to protest against vicious budget cuts that are wrecking our scientific base and threatening our economic future.

These protests will reach a symbolic climax next week, with events planned in several European capitals, including the arrival in Paris of cycling French scientists involved in the Sciences en Marche campaign.

To mark this week of action and to highlight the need for a rethink on cuts, I and colleagues from across Europe have drafted an open letter to national governments and the European Parliament and Commission. We encourage Nature’s readers, as scientists and citizens who care about the future of research in Europe, to sign it here: openletter.euroscience.org.

[full article]


Perspektive statt Befristung: Für mehr feste Arbeitsplätze im Wissenschaftsbereich



Sehr geehrte Frau Ministerin Dr. Wanka, sehr geehrter Herr Minister Gabriel,

beenden Sie den Zustand der Massenbefristung im Wissenschaftsbereich.

Wir bitten Sie:
Treffen Sie Maßnahmen, die Zahl unbefristeter Beschäftigungsverhältnisse im Wissen-schaftsbereich deutlich zu erhöhen. Geben Sie den Wissenschaftsinstitutionen die Möglichkeit und den Auftrag, als verantwortliche Arbeitgeber zu agieren.

Setzen Sie sich für eine deutliche Begrenzung des Anteils befristeter Arbeitsverhältnisse in den Bereichen Wissenschaft und Technik ein. Insbesondere sind außer-hochschulische Forschungseinrichtungen nicht primär Ausbildungsstätten, sondern wesentlicher Teil des wissenschaftlichen Arbeitsmarktes.

Öffentliche Fördergelder sollen der thematischen Förderung dienen, nicht einer automatisierten Personalpolitik. Wechselnde Themen erfordern kein wechselndes Personal. Exzellenz erfordert keine Unsicherheit der Existenz.
Öffentliche Gelder und Gesetze sollen Arbeitsplätze schaffen, keine Befristungsblase.

[weiter auf openPetition.de]

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GWK-Bericht zu Chancengleichheit in Wissenschaft und Forschung

[Der Tagesspiegel, 13.12.2013]

Befristete Gleichheit: Frauen in der Wissenschaft

Die Zahl der Professorinnen an deutschen Universitäten und Fachhochschulen steigt kontinuierlich. Häufig sind sie aber nur befristet beschäftig — und zudem überproportional in niedrigen Besoldungsstufen.

Trotz eines steigenden Frauenanteils bei den Professuren bedarf es „weiterhin intensiver Bemühungen zur Förderung von Frauen in Wissenschaft und Forschung“. Zu diesem Schluss kommt die Gemeinsame Wissenschaftskonferenz (GWK) von Bund und Ländern in ihrem Bericht zur Chancengleichheit. Wie in einem Teil der gestrigen Ausgabe berichtet sind Professuren von Frauen häufiger befristet – zu 24,3 Prozent gegenüber 16,3 Prozent bei den Männern. Professorinnen sind mit 10,4 Prozent auch fast doppelt so häufig in Teilzeit beschäftigt wie ihre männlichen Kollegen (5,9 Prozent).


[weiter auf tagespiegel.de]


GWK-Bericht zu Chancengleichheit in Wissenschaft und Forschung

Professorinnen sind öfter teilzeitbeschäftigt und befristet angestellt als ihre männlichen Kollegen:



How science goes wrong

[from: The Economist, Oct 19th 2013]

Problems with scientific research: How science goes wrong

Scientific research has changed the world. Now it needs to change itself

A SIMPLE idea underpins science: “trust, but verify”. Results should always be subject to challenge from experiment. That simple but powerful idea has generated a vast body of knowledge. Since its birth in the 17th century, modern science has changed the world beyond recognition, and overwhelmingly for the better.

But success can breed complacency. Modern scientists are doing too much trusting and not enough verifying—to the detriment of the whole of science, and of humanity.

What a load of rubbish

Even when flawed research does not put people’s lives at risk—and much of it is too far from the market to do so—it squanders money and the efforts of some of the world’s best minds. The opportunity costs of stymied progress are hard to quantify, but they are likely to be vast. And they could be rising.

One reason is the competitiveness of science. In the 1950s, when modern academic research took shape after its successes in the second world war, it was still a rarefied pastime. The entire club of scientists numbered a few hundred thousand. As their ranks have swelled, to 6m-7m active researchers on the latest reckoning, scientists have lost their taste for self-policing and quality control. The obligation to “publish or perish” has come to rule over academic life. Competition for jobs is cut-throat. Full professors in America earned on average $135,000 in 2012—more than judges did. Every year six freshly minted PhDs vie for every academic post. Nowadays verification (the replication of other people’s results) does little to advance a researcher’s career. And without verification, dubious findings live on to mislead.


[read full article here]

Wissen­schaftliches Hochschul­personal: nur wenige unbe­fris­tet in Voll­zeit tätig

[via Statistisches Bundesamt]

Immer weniger wissen­schaft­liches und künst­le­risches Per­sonal ist an deutschen Hoch­schulen unbe­fristet und in Voll­zeit ange­stellt: Von 337 100 Per­sonen traf dies im Jahr 2011 nur auf 58 600 Per­sonen beziehungs­weise 17 % zu. Vor zehn Jahren betrug der Anteil unbe­fristeter Vollzeit­be­schäftigter am wissen­schaft­lichen und künst­lerischen Per­sonal noch 27 %.

Insbesondere Frauen sind an Hoch­schulen selten unbefristet und in Voll­zeit beschäf­tigt: Nur 10 % der weib­lichen Ange­stell­ten übten 2011 eine unbe­fristete Voll­zeit­tätig­keit aus; bei den Männern waren es 21 %. Vor zehn Jahren lagen die Anteile bei beiden Geschlechtern mit 15 % (Frauen) beziehungs­weise 32 % (Männer) deutlich höher.

Je nach Personal­gruppe variiert der Anteil unbe­fristet Vollzeit­beschäftig­ter erheb­lich: Unter den Pro­fes­sorinnen und Profes­soren war er mit 78 % mit Abstand am höchs­ten, gefolgt von Lehr­kräften für besondere Auf­gaben (42 %). Von den wissen­schaft­lichen und künst­lerischen Mit­arbeiterinnen und Mit­arbeitern waren hin­gegen nur 13 % unbe­fristet und in Vollzeit angestellt.

Diese und viele weitere Informationen finden Sie in der Broschüre “Hochschulen auf einen Blick”.

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Why open-access publication should be nonprofit

Haspelmath M (2013) Why open-access publication should be nonprofit — a view from the field of theoretical language science. Front. Behav. Neurosci. 7:57. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2013.00057

Why open-access publication should be nonprofit—a view from the field of theoretical language science

Martin Haspelmath
Department of Linguistics, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany

Many of my fellow theoretical linguistics researchers have not noticed the momentous changes in the world of science publication yet. When confronted with the idea that publication costs should be covered by author fees (“author processing charges,” or APCs), they often react with disbelief and indignation.

But the signs of inefficiency of the old subscription-based system are just as clear in my field as elsewhere, so I see no reasonable alternative to Gold open access (i.e., freely accessible electronic publications on the publisher’s website). Green open access is inefficient because of the duplication of efforts, and subscription is inefficient because it is very difficult to predict for an institution to what extent its members will want to use a journal or book. Moreover, the subscription-based model is even worse for scholars with low budgets: While a low-budget scholar can at least read the richer scholars’ works on the APC-based open access model, not even that is possible on the traditional model, and usually one can publish in prestigious places only if one knows the relevant literature.

But is APC-based publication of scientific results by profit-oriented companies (such as Holtzbrinck, the parent company of Nature Publishing Group, the parent company of Frontiers) a good alternative to subscription? Clearly, the old author-pays model removes a major inefficiency of the subscription-based system, because the authors know that they want to publish, whereas the subscribers only suspect that they want to use the publications. According to Stuart Shieber, an open-access expert and theoretical linguist at Harvard University, subscription-based publication can lead to market dysfunction (unreasonably high publication prices) because science journals are not competitive goods: If you subscribe to one science journal, this doesn’t mean that you don’t need another one (see Shieber, 2013). But from the author’s perspective, Shieber says, they are competitive goods: You just need to publish in one journal, and you can choose the cheapest one.

Shieber’s article is very sophisticated from an economics perspective, but it completely leaves aside a crucial component of scientific publication that I will argue leads to market dysfunction also with the APC-based open-access model: Scientific publications serve both to disseminate research results and to build careers of scientists. The success of a scientist (and of groups of scientists) is routinely measured by the place of publication of the work. When evaluating a scientist, the evaluators not only look at the amount of research output and the amount of citations, but also at the place of publication. Moreover, when deciding what to cite, scientists routinely privilege papers published in more prestigious journals and books published in more prestigious imprints. Thus, to be a successful scientist, one needs to publish in the same places as other successful scientists. Thus, journals and imprints have a significance for science that goes far beyond the purpose of dissemination of research results. The latter can nowadays be achieved much more easily, by archives such as Arxiv.org, or by publishing in one’s personal blog, or on Academia.edu. The primary purpose of peer review is actually peer selection: One needs to make a special effort to present one’s results in such a way that one’s peers recognize their value. It is only in this way that one’s research is likely to have an impact on others. Being selected for publication in a particular place (journal or book imprint) means being successful.

One could imagine alternative models of establishing scientific credentials, e.g., by a rating system similar to the one found in online bookshops, but discussing these is beyond the scope of this note. The big advantage of anonymous peer review and selection that I see for my own field is that it gives younger scholars the chance to become more widely visible even without traveling to many conferences. In the following, I assume that peer selection of publications will be the prevalent mode of establishing scientific credentials also in the future.

Now crucially, the association of place of publication with prestige means that the market for APC-based journals does NOT provide for competition after all: I cannot simply submit my paper to a cheaper journal if the cheaper journal has much less prestige and will lead to much fewer citations of the article. I will quite likely submit my paper to the best journal in my subfield even if this means that I will pay higher APCs (as long as my budget still allows it). Publishers will be able to price their journals according to their prestige, not according to their services. But in the 21st century, the prestige of a journal is primarily the result of the work of the scientists who publish in it, who serve as editors and as reviewers, and not the result of the publisher’s efforts. If I publish an excellent piece of research in a journal, or if I write a careful review of a submitted manuscript, I thereby enhance the prestige of this journal, and I thereby contribute to making the journal more expensive for future submitters. The publishers will reap the benefits of my excellent and conscientious work, because they can charge more without improving their services. This situation is clearly undesirable for science.

Journal and book publication has become very simple and cheap as a result of technological developments: One just needs typesetting, hosting and web presentation, as well as perhaps some kind of print-on-demand service (for open-access books). This can be done very easily without major investments, and as a result, journal publication in the less wealthy countries has increased dramatically over the last 20 years. For example, the Brazilian platform Scielo.org hosts over 1000 journals that are freely accessible and do not charge any author fees.

Of course, even nowadays journal and book publication does not come for free, and somebody has to pay for it. But in order to have a functioning market with reasonable prices, one needs real competition. My research institution can replace its cleaning company by another one, or it can buy its computers and printers from different companies if we are dissatisfied with the services and products. But we cannot simply replace journals and imprints, because we use these to build our careers and to measure our success.

A functioning model would be one where the scientists own the journal titles and book imprints, and where they choose typesetters, webdesign companies, and hosting companies that can be easily replaced by others if the prices are not right. Just as basic science itself is not a profit-oriented activity, publication of scientific results would not be a profit-oriented activity. APCs could be charged by the nonprofit organizations of the scientists (universities, scientific libraries, scholarly associations), but these would not increase as a result of excellent and high-impact work being published by the journals and imprints. On the contrary, since universities and scholarly associations derive their prestige in part from their publications, it is to be expected that the best work will be published without any APCs: These nonprofit organizations would benefit from their prestigious journals and imprints, so it would make sense for them to subsidize them in much the same way as they are subsidizing non-profit-oriented basic research itself.

The alternative model, where APCs are charged by profit-oriented publishers, has another serious drawback: It creates a strong incentive to create journals and book imprints that function like “vanity presses,” allowing authors to publish their low-quality work without significant risk of rejection. Vanity presses have long existed in the regular book market, and they have not been a problem because no public money went into them. Of course, everyone should be free to publish their bad novels or low-quality scientific articles if they desire. However, when it comes to scientific publications, the idea is that the APCs are covered by grants for scientific research, i.e., mostly by public money that would otherwise go into science. In the traditional system, grant holders are free to publish the results of their research wherever they want—but there used to be a limited set of possibilities, and scientific vanity publishers hardly existed. But nowadays increasingly, grant agencies are trying to impose the restriction that the publication should be open access—and with the for-profit approach, there is an unlimited set of possibilities. Anyone can easily found a new journal and offer publication for APCs, simply claiming that it is peer-reviewed. For example, I recently heard of two Chinese companies that are publishing a large number of open-access journals, some of them in my field of linguistics: Wuhan-based SCIRP (http://www.scirp.org/, over 250 journals) and Beijing-based MDPI (http://www.mdpi.com/, over 120 journals). The business model here is to start a large number of new journals and to hope that some of them will succeed and bring profit. For example, MDPI’s journal Languages does not even have an editor yet. This is of course reminiscent of the business model of spam e-mail, and in fact, some observers have warned of the danger of “predatory journals.” In particular, Jeffrey Beal noted in a Nature column in 2012 that there are hundreds of journals with this business model, and he writes:

The competition for author fees among fraudulent publishers is a serious threat to the future of science communication. To compete in a crowded market, legitimate open-access publishers are being forced to promise shorter submission-to-publication times; this weakens the peer-review process, which takes time to do properly. To tackle the problem, scholars must resist the temptation to publish quickly and easily… (Beall, 2012)

But the problem with Beall’s argumentation is that it is difficult to say in what sense the business model of “predatory” publishers is “fraudulent.” They are just exploiting a new niche that has been created by the notion that authors should pay for publication by profit-oriented companies. Clearly, given the current system, where not only quality, but also quantity of publication counts, scholars have an incentive to publish “quickly and easily.” Moral exhortations to “resist the temptation” will not make this problem go away.

In order to prevent scholars from publishing their work in less than fully respectable venues, science funders will have to set up a new control system that monitors journal publishers and that prevents grant holders from using grant money to publish in these journals. It is difficult to see how this can be done efficiently and without unduly restricting the freedom of scientists. In any event, it will cost money that would be saved if publication costs were carried by the publishers (universities, libraries, scholarly associations), rather than by the authors.

Another argument that Shieber (2013) cites against toll-access publication is that traditional publishers typically use price bundling, so that canceling individual journal subscriptions does not significantly reduce the costs of the libraries. But is this different in the for-profit open-access model? Not at all: Once open-access publication becomes the norm, for-profit publishers will introduce price bundling for APCs: If your institution enters into an agreement with the publisher, you will pay only EUR 500 for publishing your paper instead of the usual EUR 1000. There are already signs that this is happening: In January 2013, De Gruyter and the Max Planck Society came to an agreement about open-access publication of Max Planck books by De Gruyter (see http://www.mpdl.mpg.de/news/pressrel_2013/PM_deGruyter_MPG_de.pdf).

To summarize, the major argument for open access is that toll access is inefficient because there can be no functioning market (Shieber, 2013) and because it is difficult for subscribers to predict their needs. How should open-access publication be funded? One common funding option is by public funds, i.e., publication is funded in the same way in which science is funded. The other major funding option is by for-profit companies, on the basis of APCs. The major argument against for-profit companies is again that there can be no functioning market: Scientific publications not only serve to disseminate research findings, but they also build scientific prestige and reputation. Thus, they should be owned by scientists and their institutions, not by companies whose main purpose is to make money. If scientific work is published by for-profit companies, they make money from the reputation that is built up by publicly-funded scientific work. This means that scientific work should be published by nonprofit organizations—those very organizations that are engaged in doing science. This is in fact the traditional model of the 19th century, when it was primarily the scholarly societies and academies that published scientific works. It turns out that this is also the best model for the future.


Beall, J. (2012). Predatory publishers are corrupting open access. Nature 489, 179. doi: 10.1038/489179a

Pubmed Abstract | Pubmed Full Text | CrossRef Full Text

Shieber, S. (2013). Why Open Access is Better for Scholarly Societies. Available online at: http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/pamphlet/2013/01/29/why-open-access-is-better-for-scholarly-societies/

verdi: Tarifverhandlungen im Länderbereich – leere Worte, keine Angebote

[biwifo Report 1/2013]

Tarifverhandlungen im Länderbereich – leere Worte, keine Angebote

Dass es „Fehlentwicklungen“ bei der Befristungspraxis gäbe, räumt die Tarifgemeinschaft der Länder (TdL) ein – sieht jedoch keine tariflichen Lösungsmöglichkeiten.

„Fehlentwicklungen“? Nein, es war politisch gewollt, Befristungsmöglichkeiten immer weiter auszudehnen! Sind Instrumente wie Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz oder Teilzeit- und Befristungsgesetz erst einmal geschaffen, ohne dass es parallel reglementierende Verordnungen, Erlasse und Vereinbarungen der Tarifparteien gibt, darf sich niemand wundern, wenn die Instrumente „unlimited“ genutzt werden.

Dass Befristungen immer üblicher und immer kürzer werden, hat nicht nur herbe Konsequenzen für die Beschäftigten: Sie können ihr eigenes Leben nicht planen, weil Arbeitsort, Arbeitszeit und Einkommen kaum berechenbar sind. Die völlig ausgeuferte Befristungspraxis hat auch massive Folgen für die Einrichtungen und Dienststellen. Der enorme administrative Aufwand des Befristungsunwesens belastet die Etats der Institutionen. Das wird allerdings „bilanziell“ nicht abgebildet: Diskontinuitäten in der Stellenbesetzung und Aufgabenwahrnehmung verursachen Transaktionskosten, die in keinem Budget und in keiner Kosten- und Leistungsrechnung auftauchen.

Wir fordern:
– Ausschluss der sachgrundlosen Befristung,
– drastische Reduzierung und Quotierung der befristeten Arbeitsverhältnisse,
– deutlichen Ausbau der unbefristeten Stellen.

Petra Gerstenkorn
Mitglied des ver.di-Bundesvorstandes und Leiterin des Fachbereichs Bildung, Wissenschaft und Forschung

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AAS President’s Column: Job search process in astronomy

President’s Column
Wednesday, February 27, 2013 – 13:14

by David J. Helfand

For a significant fraction of our membership, February is probably not their favorite month. Despite being the calendrical midget with the smallest number of days, for those on the job market it probably produces the largest amount of anxiety. Indeed, the entire job search process seems to consume a larger number of months, a larger expenditure of resources, a larger amount of time, and a larger quantity of emotional energy than it did the last time I applied for a job 36 years ago. Should we reduce this burden? And, if so, how do we go about doing that? I certainly don’t know the answer(s), but I think it is time to start asking the question(s).


Finally, it must be admitted that, with 200-300 applications per faculty job this year, there is large random element in the search process; even if one is clearly in the top 5% and applies for 15 positions, one could end up with no position in any given year. This begs the question that many do not want asked: is birth control required here? I have always (well, at least in my more mature years) argued against artificially limiting graduate student positions since, both personally, and as a department, my experience is that we are far from perfect in picking winners from among the undergraduate applications we receive. Restricted access often means restricted diversity — in gender, ethnicity, and intellectual proclivities. Departments should, of course, make admissions decisions with sufficient foresight to assure they will be able to support each admitted student through to the PhD, and in times of shrinking funding, this requires brutal honesty and collective will. But openness to those with a passion for our discipline — and openness to a variety of career paths through which to pursue it (look for upcoming resources from our Employment Committee on this point) — still seem to me the right policy for graduate programs.

Where, then, should constrictions be imposed? The American Chemical Society has recently issued a very thoughtful report on the state of their graduate education which asks a number of hard questions that I find relevant to our discipline as well.

Several of the main conclusions in the Executive Summary offer trenchant commentary:

  • Current educational opportunities for graduate students, viewed on balance as a system, do not provide sufficient preparation for their careers after graduate school.
  • The system for the financial support of graduate students, as currently operated by private, institutional, state, and federal funds, is no longer optimal for national needs.
  • Departments should give thoughtful attention to maintaining a sustainable relationship between the availability of new graduates at all degree levels and genuine opportunities for them. Replication in excess is wasteful of resources and does injustice to the investment made by students and society.

While the state of our discipline is not exactly analogous that in chemistry, I believe that many of the issues their report raises are worthy of our consideration and, subsequently, of our action. This is a conversation I hope to advance in the coming year.


[read full post here]

Academia: Off the tenured track

[from: Nature 491, 627-629 (2012) doi:10.1038/nj7425-627a. Published online 21 November 2012]

Academia: Off the tenured track

by Kendall Powell

The desires to pursue personal goals, escape university pressures or get off the grant-writing treadmill convince some US professors to leave the security of a tenured post.

At the beach in Mantoloking, New Jersey, in summer 2011, the possibilities of Colin Purrington’s sabbatical year stretched out before him. Purrington, then an evolutionary biologist at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, intended to stay on campus and was almost giddy thinking of all the undergraduate research projects he had planned, with no teaching or service duties to interrupt them. And then it hit him like a 600-page textbook. When the year was over, he did not want to return to those duties — duties that had led to miserable all-nighters and family strain.

The next day, he asked his wife, the family’s main breadwinner, what she thought of him resigning his post to become a stay-at-home father to their two children. Looking up from a Sudoku puzzle, she replied: “Whatever you’d like.” Purrington’s on-campus misery made the decision easy. He walked away from his tenured position, and his 14 years at Swarthmore.

For many scientists in the United States, where tenure is most common, the decision comes with much more angst. Leaving a position that they worked for decades to attain, and that is often coveted as the pinnacle of academic achievement, is a huge step. It can also leave colleagues mystified, jealous, hurt and sometimes thinking the worst — imagining research misconduct or even a scandalous affair with a student. In interviews with professors who have left their tenured posts in the past decade, Nature found that the reasons for such moves ranged from the very personal — no marital prospects in a small college town — to the loftiest goals of shaping national educational or science policy.

 Almost all wanted to live in a more desirable location — an indication that the age-old view that academics must ‘go where the jobs are’ might not lead to long-term career satisfaction. Some tenure-leavers sought to improve the balance between work and family life, or wanted a better environment for research. Most emphasized that their colleagues did not drive them away: on the contrary, talented, passionate departmental comrades were treasured. But the evidence is clear: ‘giving up’ hard-won tenure is indeed the right move for some. Here, four researchers explain why they are happy that they relinquished those coveted posts.

[continue at Nature]

Gleichstellung in der MPG

[MaxPlanck Journal 2/2012]

„Das Thema Gleichstellung ist im Aufwind“

Nach 16 Jahren im Amt zieht Marlis Mirbach Bilanz über ihre Arbeit für die Stärkung der Frauen in der MPG

Die promovierte Chemikerin, die einst am Gmelin-Institut für anorganische Chemie und Grenzgebiete der MPG arbeitete, übernahm 1996 das neu geschaffene Amt als Zentrale Gleichstellungsbeauftragte. Nun geht sie in Ruhestand.

MaxPlanckJournal: Frau Mirbach, nach 16 Jahren im Amt legen Sie nun Ihre Arbeit in der Generalverwaltung ad acta. Was ist das für ein Gefühl?

Frauenanteil in der mpg

14 Jahre liegen zwischen gelben und blauen Balken, die Marlis Mirbach in ihrem Abschlussbericht dokumentierte. Eine jüngst vom Senat der MPG beschlossene Selbstverpflichtung wird für weitere Steigerungen sorgen. Danach soll bis Ende 2016 der Anteil an Wissenschaftlerinnen auf Ebene der Beschäftigtengruppen E13 bis E15Ü und auf Ebene der Vergütungsgruppen W2/W3 jährlich um je einen Prozentpunkt steigen.

Marlis Mirbach: Ach, eigentlich ein gutes. Haben wir doch – da schließe ich die Gleichstellungsbeauftragten in den Instituten ein – etliche Dinge erreicht, die den Frauen in der MPG zugutekommen. Die Stimmung auf unserem Jahrestreffen Mitte März war viel zuversichtlicher als 2011. Dazu hat sicher der Besuch des Generalsekretärs beigetragen. Herr Kronthaler hat zugesagt, sich dafür einzusetzen, dass die in den Gleichstellungsgrundsätzen festgeschriebenen Mitwirkungsrechte der Beauftragten mit Leben erfüllt werden. Tatsächlich reden sie nämlich bei allen personellen, organisatorischen und sozialen Maßnahmen mit, die die Gleichstellung von Frauen und Männern betreffen. Das umfasst praktisch alle Bereiche. Auch in die Zielvereinbarung, die zur zweiten Re-Auditierung zur Vergabe des Zertifikats als familiengerechte Forschungsorganisation an die MPG aufgestellt wurde, hat die Stärkung der Gleichstellungsbeauftragten Eingang gefunden.

MPJ: Werden Sie das Thema Gleichstellung weiter verfolgen?

Mirbach: Nach 16 Jahren im Amt, bei einem Thema, in dem man immer hart kämpfen musste, um kleine Veränderungen zu erreichen, wird man schon ein bisschen mürbe. Es freut mich, dass das Thema Gleichstellung derzeit im Aufwind ist und sich in den Köpfen von Wissenschaft und Verwaltung etwas tut. Trotzdem habe ich mir vorgenommen, in meiner Freizeit etwas Abstand zu gewinnen. Ich möchte viel reisen.

MPJ: Haben Sie sich die Arbeit so anstrengend vorgestellt, als Sie die Tätigkeit übernahmen?

Mirbach: Ja, schon. Nach fast 20 Jahren Tätigkeit als Wissenschaftlerin in einem experimentellen und damit hierarchisch geprägten Fach wusste ich, was auf mich zukommt. Auch wenn ich keine spezielle Ausbildung vorzuweisen hatte. Aber wer hatte das schon, es gab ja keine. Alle Kolleginnen in den außeruniversitären Forschungsorganisationen sind da damals irgendwie reingerutscht. Alle gehen nun in Rente. Die erste Generation der Gleichstellungsbeauftragten tritt ab.

MPJ: Wie sind Sie die neue Aufgabe angegangen?

Mirbach: Der Weg für mehr Chancengleichheit in der MPG war ein Stück weit bereitet: Gesamtbetriebsrat und GV hatten 1991 eine Studie zur Beschäftigungssituation von Frauen und Männern in Auftrag gegeben, und der Wissenschaftliche Rat hatte sowohl den Arbeitsausschuss zur Förderung von Wissenschaftlerinnen eingesetzt als auch ein Forscherteam beauftragt, Karrierehindernisse für Frauen zu identifizieren und Verbesserungsoptionen aufzuzeigen. Ich habe zunächst mit der damaligen Generalsekretärin Barbara Bludau den Frauenförderrahmenplan aufgestellt, 1998 stimmte dem der Senat zu. Darin waren Frauenbeauftragte für die Institute und Zielvorgaben zur Erhöhung der Frauenanteile in den Vergütungsgruppen festgeschrieben.

MPJ: Wurden die Ziele denn erreicht?

Mirbach: Eher schlecht als recht. Da fand ich es hilfreich, dass es zum ersten Mal eine Generalsekretärin gab, denn Frau Bludau wollte etwas für die Frauen tun. Als ich vorschlug, den Familienservice als Betreuungsvermittlung für alle MPG-Beschäftigten zu engagieren, war sie sofort dafür. Später haben wir erreicht, dass er sogar aus öffentlichen Mitteln finanziert werden durfte. Da hatte die MPG eine echte Vorreiterrolle; ich bin oft darauf angesprochen worden.

Continue reading

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