Board members on equal opportunities

Board members of the GDCh on equal opportunities and diversity

Prof. Katharina Al-Shamery
Dr. Alexandra Brand
Dr. Timo Flessner
Prof. Dr. Klaus-Peter Jäckel
Dr. Carla Seidel
Prof. Dr. Angelika Brückner
Dr. Matthias Urmann
 
 

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Click on photo for statements. Further statements will follow.

Dr. Carla Seidel

Dr. Carla Seidel

Why are you involved in the board of the GDCh?

The GDCh is the relevant community for chemists in Germany. My goal is to strengthen this community and thus further promote enthusiasm for chemistry. We can do this best together with the variety of experience, commitment and passion that unites us in the GDCh.

What do equal opportunities and diversity mean for you?

We need the diversity of people, backgrounds and ways of life. For me, this creates an environment of openness and appreciative interaction with one another, in which one can trust and contribute. We play an essential role in the implementation of our values in the GDCh and thus support everyone to contribute to fair, motivating and empowering interaction with one another.

What have we already implemented well in terms of equal opportunities?

I am motivated by the collaboration in the board team with colleagues from science and business, the JungchemikerForum and the senior experts. The way the board is made up is impressive. An optimal setup to stand for equal opportunities and diversity and to consistently implement our values with a variety of measures.

Where do we need to get better in terms of equal opportunities?

Unconscious prejudices can influence decisions and are barriers to equal opportunities and diversity. We have to be aware of this again and again. In order to break through stereotypical thinking, it helps to get together with people with very different backgrounds and thought patterns and to make decisions based on different perspectives, e.g. in selection committees and personnel committees.

Is the situation with regard to equal opportunities different now than when you started your career?

In school, university and at work, I grew up working with my colleagues. For many years I didn't notice how important it is to proactively include unconscious prejudices, equal opportunities and diversity in the dialogue and when making decisions. It is only in the last few years that I have dealt more intensively with it and would like to pass on my experience from more than 20 years in the chemical industry to our talents and thus further promote equal opportunities and diversity.

Dr. Timo Flessner

Why are you involved in the board of the GDCh?

Chemistry is not just about my job. It is important to me to always promote the relevance and reputation of chemistry, and the German Chemical Society is committed to this. As a board member, it is important to me that I stand up for the issues that the GDCh represents with the highest level of commitment and an exemplary understanding of values.

What do equal opportunities and diversity mean for you?

Diversity and inclusion are very important to me both privately and in my professional role as the Bayer AG site manager in Wuppertal. The factors that distinguish us all from one another, our personal experiences and skills make us an individual - the sum of these differences is an incredibly great value and an opportunity. I enjoy and need this diversity.

What have we already implemented well in terms of equal opportunities?

The GDCh Commission on Equal Opportunities in Chemistry has existed since December 2016. The commission's overriding task is to anchor equal opportunities in chemistry in a sustainable and appreciative manner. From this, the concept of equal opportunities in chemistry was developed in March 2018 - a very important sign of the importance of this topic and also a voluntary commitment to promote equal opportunities. .

Where do we need to get better in terms of equal opportunities?

Everyone in the private and professional environment can work on this topic and be a role model. It can happen in many ways. Personally, I would very soon like to live in a world in which, for example, no one is surprised if there are more women than men at the top management level in companies.

Is the situation with regard to equal opportunities different now than when you started your career?

Indeed, a lot has happened in terms of equal opportunities since I started my professional life. It starts with women in management positions, progresses through less pronounced hierarchical thinking and, fortunately, leads to a significant increase in internationality and the involvement of everyone. Nevertheless: there is still a lot to do and - unfortunately - to be careful.

Prof. Dr. Angelika Brückner

When I began my studies at the Humboldt University in Berlin in 1974, there was not a single woman among the professors in the chemistry section. Around 15% of the chemistry professorships at German universities are now held by women. The slow rethinking in politics and society as well as various funding programs have contributed to this. But there is still a lot to be done when you consider that almost half of the doctoral theses in chemistry are written by women, who then fail to make it to management positions because they still have to choose between Career and family far too often .

I have already participated in various mentoring programs and, as a member of the board of the GDCh, I would like to continue to do so to help ensure that something changes here. The situation is even more precarious for people from socially disadvantaged backgrounds and / or with a migration background. Most of them do not even make it to the universities because education in Germany is still too dependent on social status. Really living equal opportunities means increasing awareness of this problem in politics and society. Otherwise we are wasting potential.

Prof. Katharina Al-Shamery

Why are you involved in the board of the GDCh?

The GDCh can be a melting pot to jointly develop a vision for a value-based, socially and economically sustainable society, because chemistry can make an important contribution to a better world. This is anchored in the statutes of the GDCh, but living it and not being too busy with yourself is what I stood for four and a half years ago. In order to drive this forward, the Executive Board developed modern mission statements in a strategy discussion in 2018 and set the framework for action for the future.

What do equal opportunities and diversity mean for you? What have we already implemented well in terms of equal opportunities?

An appreciative, respectful, open and honest dealings with one another and an allowance for diversity are cornerstones of a sustainable society in which real creativity can develop. Therefore, in 2016 the GDCh Board of Directors, which had set up a large proportion of women for direct elections for the first time, set up a permanent Commission on Equal Opportunities in Chemistry and adopted mission statements in 2018 to make it clear and anchor that equal opportunities and diversity are an overarching task must be the GDCh.

Where do we need to get better in terms of equal opportunities?

Although the percentage of women and people with different cultural backgrounds in chemical professions has risen continuously, this has not yet reached many people's minds. For example, when women are asked which women are eligible for plenary lectures, and when since 1903 only one woman (Ida Noddack together with Walter Noddack and Friedrich Emich) in 1931 with the Liebig coin, our highest national award, and none for the August-Wilhelm -von-Hofmann memorial coin, our highest international award, speaks volumes. The board of directors can only set mission statements and vote for or against the proposals of the grassroots in terms of prices. Fundamentally, everyone's attitudes must change, as is already the case in other chemical societies.

Is the situation with regard to equal opportunities different now than when you started your career?

When I started studying chemistry in 1977, a chemistry professor greeted freshmen at an orientation event saying that women only study chemistry because they don't get men anywhere else. In the building constructed in 1970 there were only men's toilets in the area of the laboratory rooms and almost 50% of the students therefore had to travel longer distances to get to the sanitary facilities for women, as in the film "Hidden Figures". When I was doing my doctorate at ETH Zurich in the 1980s, women in neighboring Liechtenstein (1984) and in two Swiss cantons had no right to vote. This was only established in 1989 in Appenzell-Ausserrhoden and in 1990 against the votes of the men after a federal constitutional complaint in Appenzell-Innerrhoden. Arguments against voting rights included that men would inevitably be discriminated against because of the majority of the population of women. Such attitudes shape an entire society. As the universities gradually introduced measures for equitable appointment procedures, the gender bias was more subtle (women were often too young for a job or did not fit in with the profile, while men were the rising stars and brought diversity to the research profile). We have at least embarked on the path of equal opportunities, but the path is still very long. Internationally, there is still much further to be done. For example, heavily pregnant women and nursing mothers in poorer countries are still in laboratories for fear of losing their jobs. This shows that we still have to get involved in a completely different way internationally, together with the other large professional associations.

Prof. Dr. Klaus-Peter Jäckel

Equal opportunities and diversity are a basic human right that applies equally to all people. No group may claim this right as a unique selling point and thereby disadvantage others!

Why are you involved in the board of the GDCh?

I am involved in the board of directors to realize the goals and tasks of the GDCh and to help shape the future of society in a responsible manner.

What do equal opportunities and diversity mean for you?

I advocate equal rights for women and men regardless of the person and I defend myself against all forms of discrimination. Technical and personal skills should be in the foreground, for example when awarding prizes and filling positions.

Where do we need to get better in terms of equal opportunities?

In the case of funding programs, make sure that they do not exclude or disadvantage the opposite sex, as it appeared in the early conception phase of the CheMento program. No discriminatory wording in applications and tenders, such as in the ?Documentation of the selection processes for the prizes and awards of the GDCh?, which suggest preferential treatment of a gender component.

Dr. Matthias Urmann

Why are you involved in the board of the GDCh?

For me, the GDCh, with its values and guiding principles, stands for a cosmopolitan, tolerant and equal opportunity society, whose members are held together by a shared fascination with chemistry. The dialogue about the boundaries of the specialist areas, the fun exploring the new and the curiosity about the unknown is the framework that invites and includes everyone who wants to get involved. To be able to accompany and shape this work of the GDCh from the board of directors is both a pleasure and a challenge that I am very happy to face.

What do equal opportunities and diversity mean for you?

For me, equal opportunities and diversity mean that you contribute to the GDCh exclusively as an individual personality and that you are perceived and accepted as such and that all other characteristics such as origin, skin color and gender are not allowed to play a role. As the GDCh, we have been dealing with these topics for many years. In doing so, we have achieved that the issues of equal opportunities and diversity shape our work in the GDCh as very important issues and we are aware of how much active attention these issues need in order for the change process in our society (inside and outside the GDCh) to continue.

Where do we need to get better in terms of equal opportunities?

A start has been made with equal opportunities, but we must not stop working very actively until equal opportunities and diversity have become part of our culture.

Is the situation with regard to equal opportunities different now than when you started your career?

When I started my career more than 25 years ago, the topics of equal opportunities and diversity were not yet formative topics. Only over the years has it become more and more conscious that equal opportunities and diversity are tasks that have to be actively designed. Today we are far from over, but the vast majority of them have already realized that teams and organizations (at universities or in industry), equal opportunities and diversity are an opportunity to be more successful. This is a very encouraging development for me.

Dr. Alexandra Brand

Why are you involved in the board of the GDCh?

Chemistry is a fascinating science of outstanding importance for sustainability, social progress and innovation. Chemistry can only fully exploit its possibilities with creative ideas and many different perspectives.

Is the situation with regard to equal opportunities different now than when you started your career?

When I switched to industry 20 years ago after completing my doctorate, my head of research department deliberately advised me to be 50% female chemists. At that time he was the absolute exception. Many of my former colleagues have had successful careers; Thanks to a good climate with acceptance and support. Today, a lot of good women start in our company, everywhere. We are constantly improving the framework for flexible work, paternity leave and acceptance of diversity. We are therefore well equipped to significantly increase our proportion of female managers.

(Dr. Alexandra Brand was a board member of the GDCh until July 2020)

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last modified: 10.05.2021 14:49 H from