On the situation of women on career paths at German universities

Resolution of the 35th General Assembly of the HRK, 15 November 2022

The current figures show: Women are still not adequately represented at the academic career levels. The Joint Science Conference (GWK) reported in November 2022 that the proportion of women in doctoral education was 45.1 per cent. However, the share remains at 26.3 per cent for professorships.

The German Rectors' Conference notes with great concern that progress in the appropriate consideration of women at higher career levels is far too slow, despite numerous measures. Neither the so-called cascade model nor voluntary mentoring and coaching offers fundamentally change the situation. The individual commitment of bodies and persons involved in the recruitment process has similarly not yet led to the desired results.

The development of the figures shows that the core issue must be a cultural change supported by a structural change including the corresponding procedural changes both at the individual institutions and in the system as a whole. Stereotypes often still play a role in the selection and assessment of the qualifications of the candidates to be appointed. Furthermore, despite great commitment and awareness of the problem, appointment committees too often look for suitable applicants in their networks – networks in which women are still often structurally not involved. For the universities, this means, for example, that there must be systematic equality-oriented active recruiting of women, a procedure that has so far only been established at some universities.

Determined action by all actors in science and politics at all levels is urgently needed to achieve more significant progress. For example, the GWK's programme for female professors has shown that success can be achieved with structural measures. Further programmes, which also work with monetary incentives, should be set up according to this model.

In the medium and long term, every second professorship must be filled by a woman if an appropriate gender representation is to be achieved. This can only be achieved through a determined strategy supported by all, combining different measures (policy mix) and focusing on sustainable cultural change through structural transformation. The universities are committed to taking the necessary steps to achieve this.