Gender equality and affirmative action in academia

A colleague forwarded this job opening to me:

Just to make clear for those who do not read German, the Department of Political Science of the University of Mainz has an open assistant professor position reserved exclusively for women. It is the first time that I see this kind of affirmative action. How common is it? What do you think about it?

6 thoughts on “Gender equality and affirmative action in academia

  1. Never seen this before … But are they really not going to hire male applicants? Or is it just meant to put “professorin” as the “neutral” form rather than the, equally not-so-neutral, “professor”?

  2. And there are more positions for women to come:
    Germany is currently implementing a programm where universities can get funding for up to three additional positions reserved for female professors if their gender equality programme receives a positive evaluation; it is the “Professorinnenprogramm” (small i intended).
    http://www.bmbf.de/de/494.php

  3. Jos: as Stefanie explains, these are really positions for which men cannot apply. It’s really a thorny issue. It will be interesting to see to what extent these women-only professorships will spread in Germany and maybe beyond.

  4. You clearly need something drastic to change the gender balance. There is a great dissertation written in the Netherlands, which shows how the chances of hiring a woman in academia improve drastically if you have even one female hiring committee member. I wonder what the courts would say if challenged. Given that Germany has not signed protocol 12 of the ECHR, there should be no issue there but there might be under EU law. Not sure about German law. This would definitely be illegal in the US.

  5. Erik: having at least one female member in search committees is hardly radical and has become the rule. Either it is not as effective as the Dutch study suggests (my guess), or there is no need for drastic measures.

  6. In Switzerland, it would be illegal (and rightly so), as the Federal Supreme Court has decided in 2001 (see BGE 131 II 361). A (male) lawyer applied for an assistant professorship although the University of Fribourg only invited female lawyers to apply. The University’s hiring committee refused to consider his application. The Supreme Court ruled that this violates the non-discrimination rule as it is stipulated in the Swiss equality law.

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