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“Women in Science” conference to promote equal opportunities
The percentage of women who hold top positions in science is relatively low in Germany and South Africa, particularly in the so-called MINT specialist areas (mathematics, information technology, natural sciences and technology). In order to identify the reasons for this and to work out how the situation could be improved, scientists from both countries exchanged ideas at the conference “Women in Science – Promoting Excellence and Innovation for Future Development”, held at Kiel University of Applied Sciences from 21 to 23 March.
As part of the conference, experiences from both countries relating to the under-representation of women in science were discussed, giving particular consideration to the historic conditions of the post-apartheid era and German reunification. However, each of the three days of the conference was dedicated to one particular issue: from “Gender Cultures in Science and Research” on day one, to “Career Paths in the (Natural) Sciences and Technology” on day two and “Global Change Research - Knowledge beyond Scientific and National Borders” on day three. In addition to the reasons why equal opportunities are still only seldom available, the possible consequences of the low percentage of women working in top scientific positions were also examined in detail.
The conference was geared towards scientists from South Africa and Germany, (post-)graduate students and young scientists, whether female or male. Interested members of the public and students were also invited. In particular, female students of the MINT subjects were encouraged to learn about their career options in science, to share ideas and to network more widely.
The English-language conference was organised by the Institute for Interdisciplinary Gender Research and Diversity (IGD) of Kiel University of Applied Sciences. Before the start of the conference, Kiel University of Applied Sciences had already welcomed a delegation of participating female scientists from a variety of disciplines, including archaeology, psychology and IT. Parallel to the conference, they gained an insight into the world of German universities and research institutes thanks to a series of visits to various institutions.