|In June 2014 a team of students of several graduate programs organized an event at the Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology Magdeburg - "Career Day 2014: Perspectives for Women in Life Science". This occasion provided a platform to exchange experiences, build professional networks and talk about problems we face. The main focus was on career options young scientists can pursue and possible obstacles female peers can encounter.
Today, society still challenges the issue of gender inequality in science and related disciplines. This old problem is especially faced in early stages of career and family planning, so we often feel that our choices are limited. To show diverse career paths and address this important issue from several angles, we invited speakers from different areas of research, business and teaching.
Prof. Dr. J. Schnitzer-Ungefug opened with disquieting statistics of university leadership positions held by women. The trends in life sciences and medicine are associated with thinning numbers of females as the career ladder advances. Her employer, the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina in Halle (Saale), is trying to document this and advise governmental institutions on what could be done to improve the situation. The same problem is persistent in the industry, as Dr. J. Heise stated. Speakers Prof. Dr. J. Schnitzer-Ungefug and J. C. Rogge emphasized that it is not only a problem of disparity in payment and percentage in leadership positions but an attitude society fosters. Solutions can come from the state by generating a working frame. Also, a shift of the mindset about family responsibilities, social organization and working possibilities may be a path to keep women in science. Prof. Dr. A. Zenclussen and Dr. J. Heise talked about their personal experiences and offered some concrete advices of how to go around work - family/life balance problems. Dr. V. Kremling advised that the key is to "see what you like and keep on doing it in a way that is comfortable for you". We were also informed about COMETiN, a mentoring program at the Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg, by S. Kassebaum. Within this program, female junior scientists can find an individual mentor and guidance in their career planning. All speakers were keen on sharing their career paths and offered suggestions and encouragement to young scientists.
Comments from the participants were encouraging and showed that there is a need and interest for this kind of event to address critical issues scientists often have. To promote gender equality and provide information on working options, the "Career Day" will be held again next year.
Text by Lejla Colic (SFB 779), Eve Gerecke (LGS), Juliane Handschuh (GRK 1167) und Katharina Kramer (student of Science journalism)