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Science and Family



 Opens external link in new window1st EMBL/DFG Women in Science Network Conference


In addition to promoting interdisciplinary top-level science, one major goal of the CRCs is to actively support gender equality by enhancing visibility and networking for female scientists. In 2015, a number of CRCs organized scientific meetings at different locations (CRC 704, 645, TRR 83/Bonn; CRC 738, 841, 685, 650/Hannover; CRC 1054/Munich) to stimulate networking among women. The CRC685 has recently participated in the organization of the 1st EMBL/DFG Women in Science Network Conference in Heidelberg, in which a total of 9 CRCs have joined forces with the EMBL to establish the 1st EMBL/DFG Women in Science Network Conference on a national level. Scientific and networking sessions have been recently summarizedOpens external link in new window in a meeting report  published in European Journal of immunology and the next year´s conference is already being planned. 

Science and Family

CRC 685: Gender equality and compatibility of family and scientific career

Gender equality

The University of Tübingen, the University Hospital and the CRC 685 are striving to achieve equality of gender on all levels by adhering to specific measures concerning the recruitment, retention and career development of women.

In contrast to the previous funding period, in which 3 of 36 PIs (8.3%) were female scientists, in the final funding period 7 of 37 PIs (18.9%) are women. Furthermore, four female scientists in the CRC have already received their postdoctoral qualification ('Habilitation'). Four PIs have families (some with very young children) with daily responsibilities in family care.

Thus, compared to the first funding period, the proportion of female PIs has more than doubled and improvements in gender equality have also been achieved at the level of PhD students and post‐docs.

The Bureau of Gender Equality at the University of Tübingen supports university members throughout all academic levels, comprising the student body, advanced scientists and professors. The University of Tübingen has institutionalized a LOM‐factor for gender equality, which dictates granting of funds according to accomplishments in equal opportunity efforts. Furthermore, equal opportunity efforts are an integral part of the university's target agreement. Annually, more than 140.000 € are distributed according to the criteria 'progression in the proportion of female professors and mid‐level faculty'. The University formulates Equal Opportunity Plans for a five‐year period. In the coming years, the University aims at equalizing the proportion of female scientists at a given qualification level relative to the proportion in the next lower level (cascade model). For instance, the goal is to equalize the number of female PhD students and the number of female undergraduate students. The same bottom‐up process applies for advanced academic levels and already bears fruits.

According to the equal opportunity report in 2011, the proportion of female scientists on almost all levels has risen in the years 2008 to 2011, underscoring both the determination of the University and the effectiveness of its measures. On average, the proportion of doctoral degrees obtained by women in 2010 was 53%, and the proportion of female postdoctoral qualifications (habilitation) was 31%. In addition, the percentage of female junior project leaders has risen significantly during the last few years and has surpassed the percentage of female scientists at advanced career stages. On the professorial level, Tübingen received approximately 20% of all applications from female candidates. Remarkably, among the applications for professorships (18.4% female candidates) in the winter term of 2011, 29.3% of the short‐listed and 30.4% of the top‐ranked candidates were women.

The University and Medical Faculty have been making a considerable effort in recent years to implement measures that ensure an attractive research environment for female researchers:

o   The 'Equal Opportunities Initiative' was introduced in 2008 and singled out for praise by the DFG under its '200 Women Professors Program' as one of the 'best proposals', and in 2011, was once again given a positive rating based on its successful implementation. The University will invest € 1.2 Mio p.a. in equal opportunities funding for women professorships, and additional € 1.2 Mio p.a. for female junior researchers (W1 professors) to increase the proportion of women W3 professors to around 30%.

o   The 'Researchled Gender Promotion' program of the Medical Faculty supports excellent female/male junior postdocs during their parental leave (6‐12 months) with a technician or postdoc (50,000 € per applicant) to guarantee continuation of their career without intermission.

o   The ‘KiKo (Kinderbetreuung in Kooperation) Program’ of the Medical Faculty supports excellent female scientists by assigning a slot in a care center for children aged between one and three years.

o   The 'Athene Program' of the University advocates excellent female junior researchers during their graduation by providing travel and conference funds, material and research assistant expenses as well as support for flexible child care. Additionally, individual coaching by a professional trainer, consultation with a scientific mentor and attending key qualification workshops are measures to promote female careers.

o   The 'Gerda Tschira Stipend' encourages students of life sciences to study abroad with their children. The amount of funding depends on the living and child care costs in the respective countries.

o   The 'Teaching Equality Tübingen (T@T) Program' is a core measure of the university's equal opportunity policy and works at encouraging female students to choose a scientific career. Female students may enroll in teaching equality seminars and the program provides one‐semester scholarships of 10.000 € for excellent female PhD students and offers funding for distinguished women guest professors.

o   The 'Margarete von Wrangell Program' supports excellent female scientists in Baden‐Württemberg in achieving a postdoctoral qualification (habilitation). In cooperation with the University of Tübingen, the program offers financial support and training for 5 years.

o   The 'Dual Career Couples' service center of the University supports spouses of new professors and junior scientists by awarding bridging funds (temporary academic positions) and offering job seeking activities to pursue their career upon relocation. The center has played a major role in the appointment of 20 new professors by finding positions for their partners, and also entertains a network with regional institutions in academia and economy.

o   The 'Peer Mentoring Program' is designed for female students, postgraduate students and postdoctoral qualification fellows ('Habilitandinnen') and supports the acquisition of interdisciplinary qualifications for female scientists. To this purpose, the University supports peer‐mentoring groups of female junior scientists and self‐organized advanced training activities for the acquisition of key skills, e.g. communication abilities, grant acquisition, applications, team leadership etc.

o   The 'MuTMentoring and Training Program' offers vocational support for female junior scientists in Baden‐Württemberg and brings young scientists in contact with experienced role models and supports networking among female researchers.

o   The Tübingen 'Schnupperstudium' addresses pupils before their secondary‐school examination to improve the access of women to academic ranks at very early career stages. Participants may gather first-hand experience in disciplines that typically lack female students. Several institutes involved in the CRC also extend this program by offering practical courses or by participating in our annual 'Girls Day'.

o   The unique 'International Gender Research School' in Tübingen was established in 2009 in order to set up an international research network on gender issues with partner universities.

A major goal of the CRC is to support not only female graduate students, but also post‐docs and young PIs.

The CRC will make every effort to increase recruitment of qualified women, and gender aspects will be considered for each scientist appointment.

o   Lectures and seminars of the CRC have been scheduled to take place within the opening hours of childcare facilities in order to facilitate the participation of female scientists, especially those with younger children.

o   Female researchers will be encouraged to attend mentoring and coaching courses and seminars that foster leadership skills, for which they will receive additional support.

o   Part‐time positions will be made available for parents returning to research after child-care leave.

Compatibility of family and scientific career

To meet family needs, the University, the UKT and the CRC have made substantial efforts to provide sufficient childcare facilities and to schedule seminars and lectures in accordance with opening times. Since 2011, Tübingen has been one of the first 12 certified universities in Germany that are members of the Best Practice Club 'Familie in der Hochschule' ('Family in the University Setting'). In a nationwide DFG survey in 2011, the University of Tübingen was ranked right at the top with respect to research‐oriented equal opportunities. Parents seeking childcare are fortunate that facilities exist both for the day care of young (starting at the age of three months) and older children. The city of Tübingen offers more than 5.000 child care places. In particular, care facilities for children under three years of age have been extensively increased. The administrative district of Tübingen now offers a total of more than 1.000 places for children below 3 years of age and because of this was recently ranked first among the districts of Baden‐Württemberg. In addition, the students’ union financially supports several day care facilities and currently can accept 88 children between six months and six years of age. Furthermore, the city council of Tübingen and the University/University Hospital have jointly established a variety of child care units for children between 6 months and 10 years. Compared to other university hospitals, the UKT holds a leading position in child care opportunities, with 130 available places. The well‐organized day care center, in close vicinity to the campus and with opening hours from 5.45 am to 6.00 pm, offers child care for 100 children between 1 and 6 years and for 30 school children in a special after‐school care facility. Approximately 40‐50% of the capacity has been reserved for scientific staff. A new building that was opened in 2010 has meant that the number of places for children between 1 and 3 years of age has increased significantly for scientific personnel


Child care at municipal institutions

From 2013, a legal claim for child care for every child from one year of age will come into effect. To comply with the legislation, the Tübingen district has extended its capacities and is now leading in Baden‐Württemberg in this respect. A multitude of municipal and other child care institutions provides a well‐organized environment for toddlers (0‐3 yrs.), pre-school children (3‐6 yrs.) and school children (6‐10 yrs.). An overview of the opening hours, placement and charges is given on the homepage of the city of Tübingen (

Supportive measures of the University of Tübingen and University Hospital

o   The University and the University Hospital offer several child care centers for children between 6 months to 10 years of age and have jointly established a special childcare service for scientific researchers, termed KiKo (child care in cooperation) together with the city of Tübingen (Table Currently, the university subsidizes every KiKo place with one‐third of total costs, i.e. 270 € per month.

o   The well‐organized day care center of the University Hospital, with opening hours from 6.45 a.m. to 6.00 p.m., offers child care for up to 100 children between 1 and 6 years of age and for 30 school children in a special after‐school care facility. Up to 50% of the capacity is reserved for scientific employees. Recently, the number of places for children between 1 and 3 years of age was increased significantly for scientists. As mentioned previously, a new building for 20 children below 3 years and for 40 children above 3 years of age with a gymnastic hall and an out‐door playground has been installed in close vicinity to the campus.

o   The University and University Hospital offer several recreational programs in school holidays.

o   The University supports women researchers after maternal leave or in completing their PhD thesis with one‐year stipends that include a specific amount for child care fees.

o   The Faculty of Medicine supports five excellent researchers in continuing their research projects during parental leave (6‐12 months) by providing a half‐time position for a technician. After resuming their research work, they receive 50% of the parental contribution for the day care center.

o   The Christiane NüssleinVolhardFoundation in Tübingen supports talented young scientists with children by offering funds for child care outside working hours or during multiple‐day absences.

o   The UNESCOL'OREAL Fellowship Program annually grants three fellowships, valued at 20.000 € each, in partnership with the Christiane Nüsslein‐Volhard Foundation, to promote young mothers in Life Sciences.

o   The SchliebenLange Program addresses young mothers at Baden‐Württemberg universities and aims at improving the compatibility of career and family by offering two year financial support. Funds are available for women who resume their research career after parental leave.


Additional supportive measures of the CRC:

The CRC has already implemented and will further strengthen the existing support programs by specific and complementary measures addressing specific needs:


o   The CRC promotes scientists who wish to return to academia after parental leave and supports highly qualified female scientists in their careers.

o   Activities of the CRC are organized on family‐friendly time schedules by avoiding late evening hours.

o   Childcare and travel support for CRC members and their children will be provided for scientific meetings related to topics of the CRC.

o   Investments necessary to improve lab conditions for pregnant scientists will be undertaken.

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