Focus on equal opportunity and diversity

In the coming months, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation will be expanding its involvement in matters pertaining to equity, equality of opportunity, and diversity in the science system with a wide range of activities and measures.

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Conference website “Impetus for Europe: Equality-Oriented Structures and Diversity in Research” 

Diversity is the topic that will shape the agenda of the conference Impetus for Europe: Equality-Oriented Structures and Diversity in Research being held by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research on 11 and 12 November in connection with Germany’s term as President of the European Council. Diversity is also an important aim for the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation which has made it a cornerstone of its strategy. With sponsored individuals from more than 140 countries and all conceivable disciplines and fields, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation’s network of excellency reflects a broad slice of society. “We are an organisation that recognises values and endeavours to actively promote innovation and a wide array of perspectives. For this reason, we continually review our selection and funding instruments to identify how we could promote diversity even better”, noted Hans-Christian Pape, President of the Humboldt Foundation, in an interview with the Foundation’s Humboldt Kosmos magazine. The coming issue of Kosmos will be devoted to the subject of diversity in the Humboldt network and in the science system. Drawing on numerous voices and experiences from the network, the January issue of the Foundation’s magazine will explore the question of what diversity means in different contexts, what mechanisms for exclusion are prevalent in the scientific and academic community, and how they can be counteracted.

As one aspect of diversity, the Foundation plans to step up its efforts to further increase the share of female scholars and scientists in its network and implement strategies aimed at increasing even further the diversity of perspectives and ideas in the network. “We should think of diversity as comprehensive variety and let ourselves be guided by this concept. And we want to become even better at this”, said Hans-Christian Pape.

For one thing, for the first time starting next year Humboldt Research Fellows will be joining the network who could be recruited for the network without using the established sub-networks and existing paths, namely: through the Henriette Herz Scouting Programme by newly enlisted, first-time hosts.  With this programme, up to three fellowships per host can be quickly and directly granted, with the requirement that at least the first fellowship goes to a female researcher.

Further, the Foundation launched a large-scale gender potential and requirements analysis this fall. This project will analyse data from 14 selected key countries around the world in order to determine the size of the share of qualified women who could potentially be persuaded to undertake a research stay in Germany and what their needs and requirements look like. The Humboldt Foundation is particularly seeking to increase the share of female researchers in its Alexander von Humboldt Professorship Programme. In future, a mentoring option will give female researchers who could potentially be nominated for the programme the opportunity to draw upon the experience of established female Alexander von Humboldt Professors. In addition, the Foundation encourages host institutions to offer award winners flexible scheduling options for the start of their work in Germany in order to make their relocation to Germany easier.

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