Tag: women in science

There is a culture of discrimination against pregnancy and parenthood inside the Max Planck Society

There is a culture of discrimination against pregnancy and parenthood inside the Max Planck Society

Summary and context

Yet again, one Max Planck female director – this time from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI-CBS) – was presented as an isolated case of bullying in academia. The story illustrates pregnancy discrimination. The press office of the Max Planck Society (MPG) stated that this an isolated case that is internally solved and it doesn’t reflect what the other more than 700 group leaders and directors do. However, years of PhDnet surveys show otherwise. Later – after a social media comment about putting the case within a larger contextBuzzFeed and Spiegel Online covered the case within the context of MPG’s building principle. A few days later, PhDnet launched their position paper on  abuse of power and conflict resolution in the MPG in an interview given by the PhDnet spokesperson, Jana Lasser in Science magazine. The position paper was extensively discussed by Forschung & Lehre. The bullying at MPI-CBS was also reported by the Daily Mail, Washington Post, LA Times, the online magazines of New York Times and Atlantic, among many others. One coverage has a unique take on bullying as an ubiquitous phenomenon. Similarly, there is an ubiquitous phenomenon of discrimination against pregnancy and parenthood inside the MPG, in academia and society.

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Bystanders enable academic bullies: The Max Planck Society as a case study

Bystanders enable academic bullies: The Max Planck Society as a case study

Summary and context

In February, Spiegel Online brought up the topic of bullying and sexual harassment at a Max Planck Institute (MPI) in Bavaria. Since then, extensive press coverage discussed the deeds of the female director at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics (MPA). Initially, the press office of the Max Planck Society (MPG) through their spokesperson – Dr. Christina Beck – stated that they heard about the problems at the MPA only in 2016. I proved otherwise: There were documents that went through Dr. Beck’s hands that showed problems at the institute since at least 2013. The president of the MPG – Martin Stratmann – admitted in an interview to FAZ that the internal complaint mechanisms are not ideal but claimed a clear responsibility structure. I agree with the first part, but I will argue that the responsibility structure is far from clear. In addition, academic bullies thrive enabled by bystanders. I describe here how “Nils” – mentioned in the first BuzzFeed coverage – went through all the complaint avenues inside the MPG. Everyone, not only the general administration (GA) of the MPG, knew about what was happening to him.

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A good practice example and a role model: Marina Rodnina

A good practice example and a role model: Marina Rodnina

Summary and context

In view of current and older criticism, I am showing that not everything is bad inside the Max Planck Society. My intention is to show that there are worthy role models there, one of which is Marina Rodnina. This piece is especially important when, during the recent press coverage, an excuse used was that women have it especially difficult in academia. Indeed, but there are women who take these experiences and do remarkable things for other women. Moreover, since women have no room for failure, there is a chance that recent reports about a female start scientist will influence the progress we made. Marina Rodnina is the example we all need through these times.

New German federal program funds ONLY 1,000 tenure track professorships

New German federal program funds ONLY 1,000 tenure track professorships

Summary

On the 20th of May the Joint Research Conference (GWK) presented their new program, the Nachwuchspakt, through which one billion EUR will be used to create 1,000 tenure track positions over the next 15 years. German academics rejoiced. However, a closer look at the numbers in the German academic system shows that the new program will make only a marginal contribution towards solving the problems junior academics face. Junior academics need to directly address politicians with their opinions on this maintenance of the status quo. Continue reading “New German federal program funds ONLY 1,000 tenure track professorships”