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Information for Researchers No. 33 | 4 July 2018
Equal Opportunities in Research: Challenge – Encourage – Investigate

DFG Annual Meeting, 2–4 July 2018: New qualitative reporting duty in conjunction with DFG Research-Oriented Standards on Gender Equality and start of first reporting round / Expansion of DFG toolbox / Package of measures to improve equal opportunities in DFG funding – including introduction of gender dimension to research

In 2008, the member organisations of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) made a voluntary commitment to implement the Research-Oriented Standards on Gender Equality to enhance gender equality at German universities. Last year, they renewed this commitment in light of the fact that, although the number of female professors and women in senior academic positions in Germany is continuing to increase, it is still lower than expected. At this year’s General Assembly in Bonn, the member organisations agreed to report on key related topics every two years. It was agreed that concise reports incorporating examples of both successful and unsuccessful measures would be the most useful format, allowing peers to openly discuss their experiences.

For the first reporting round, the member organisations chose to focus on the following topics: “Providing the conditions necessary to better enable female researchers to engage in committee work” and “recruitment procedures to attract more women to science and academia”. The deadline for the submission of reports is 31 January 2019. Guidelines on preparing the reports will be made available on the DFG website. In September 2019, the DFG will invite university leaders to a workshop to allow peers to discuss their experiences. On the basis of the reports and this workshop, recommendations and actions relating to the key topics will be presented at the General Assembly in 2020.

Expansion of the DFG toolbox

In 2009, a free online information system known as the DFG toolbox was created to support the implementation of the Research-Oriented Standards on Gender Equality. To make the database relevant and useful to the whole of the German research community, measures implemented at non-university research institutions, universities of applied sciences, art and/or music academies were recently added. The database currently lists around 300 equality measures as useful practical models. The technology and content of the toolbox are provided on behalf of the DFG by the Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences (GESIS). Equal opportunity measures featured in the toolbox are quality-assured by the Center of Excellence Women and Science (CEWS).

Package of measures to improve equal opportunities in DFG funding – including the introduction of the gender dimension to research

During the Annual Meeting, the DFG’s decision- and policymaking bodies also re-examined the organisation’s qualitative equality strategy, which focuses on the promotion of equal opportunities in DFG programmes. This strategy and the first package of measures were adopted in 2017. A new package of measures has now been agreed on, as a result of which applicants will now be encouraged in the proposal preparation guidelines to reflect on the relevance of gender and diversity in the implementation of their research projects. The aim is to avoid “blind spots” in research and in projects resulting from a lack of consideration of gender-related factors and other aspects of diversity. This topic should only be addressed where relevant. Engagement with this issue is already commonplace among many other research organisations around the world.

A measure was also adopted to once again raise awareness among applicants and reviewers of the potential breadth of information in CVs of relevance to the review process. Relevant guidance will be made available in a new, central set of guidelines. In addition to the description of a research career, information about other activities, such as teaching, committee work, research administration and reviewing, as well as career breaks or extended qualification phases due to migration, parental leave, disability or illness, can be included. Consideration can also be given to dual careers and reasons for alternative career paths. Where factors like these have impacted on an applicant’s research output, they may be voluntarily listed to allow them to be appropriately taken into account in the review process. To help applicants structure their CVs more effectively, a template will be made available, which in the interests of equal treatment also does not request a photo of the applicant.

In the future, the proposal preparation instructions will also encourage applicants to give appropriate consideration to diversity in the composition of the project group – thus enabling a variety of perspectives.

Another means of promoting a greater contribution by female researchers in DFG programmes is through calls for project proposals. Currently, calls are only issued for Priority Programmes, international collaborations and similar endeavours. In other DFG programmes, project proposals may be submitted at any time. In the future, calls will specifically encourage applications from the gender which is underrepresented at the senior level in the relevant discipline – which in most cases will be women.

These measures will be implemented in DFG programmes and guidelines in a step-by-step process. Updates will be posted on the DFG website. Additional packages of measures are planned within the context of the qualitative equality strategy, and these will be addressed accordingly by the DFG’s decision- and policymaking bodies.

Further information

Information about the new qualitative reporting obligation on the Research-Oriented Standards on Gender Equality is available at:

The DFG toolbox is available at:

Detailed information on equal opportunity and activities undertaken by the DFG is available at:

Contacts at the DFG Head Office:

Equal Opportunities, Research Integrity and Cross-Programme Development Division:



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