Interview of the Month: Federal Conference of Gender Equality Officers in Higher Education in Germany BuKoF (9/2015)

Every month, EPWS presents the characteristics and activities of one Member Association.

Read all the previous Interviews with our Members here

Our member for September 2015 is the Federal Conference of Gender Equality Officers in Higher Education in Germany BuKoF 

For BuKoF, Marion Woelki, head of the Office for Equal Opportunities and Family Affairs of the University of Konstanz and member of the extended executive board has accepted to answer the EPWS questionnaire.

Contact this association: Federal Conference of Gender Equality Officers in Higher Education in Germany (BuKoF)

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EPWS: If you wanted to describe your association in one sentence, what would you say?


M.W.: We are the federal German institutional network of officers and managers for gender equality to achieve equal opportunities in the academic system and to promote female researchers in their career.


EPWS: What are the objectives of your association?


M.W.: We cooperate to aid one another in our work and targets. In order to do so, we discuss the political, social and economic issues around the academic system for all types of universities in Germany. Our main goal is to fight against the underrepresentation of female professors and faculty positions at universities and to balance out the structural inequality for women. That is why we ask for target quotas for the advancement of women in each career stage based on the cascade model. Another objective is to raise the awareness and to change the academic culture towards a gender sensitive organizational and personal development. So we need gender-fair hiring and appointment procedures, affirmative action programs and antidiscrimination policies. We are about to implement gender mainstreaming as a basis of our work. A main topic is also to look for a good work-life-balance in the academic working and studying conditions to offer the possibility of combining an academic career with family issues. In the academic field, we promote gender studies and we are interested in a good and productive relationship between the results of gender research and equal opportunities. To spread the network idea, our twelve commissions provide support to all colleagues with useful materials, like guidelines and field manuals.


EPWS: What is the history of BuKoF, in a few words?


M.W.: The BuKoF was founded in 1989, when a lot of academic institutions began to appoint equal opportunities officers in order to comply with the new state laws. In the 25 years of our history we can differentiate 5 phases: In the beginning the structure of the organization and their main objectives were discussed and formalized. Up to 1994 the first political resolutions were devised and the network began to interfere in academic programs and legislation. From 1999 to 2003 we analyzed the Bologna Process and the principle of the European “gender mainstreaming” with their impacts on German academic organizations and their equal opportunities policies. In the years from 2004 to 2010 the main instruments of gender mainstreaming were presented and we discussed the role of the BuKoF between management and lobbying. Since 2011 the BuKoF has begun to cooperate more actively with the main stakeholders of the academic and scientific community to gain more influence in the programs and policies.


EPWS: Could you explain the organization of your association?


M. W.: In the structure of a nonprofit organization the BuKoF counts about 270 members. Its executive committee has five members who are responsible for the representation and the strategic framework. The political work is done in twelve thematic commissions whose chairs together with spokeswomen of the 16 state conferences compose the extended executive board. The legislative power has the annual General Assembly.


EPWS: What are its recent achievements?


M. W.: We now have a good collaboration with the German Research Foundation DFG towards the integration of standards of equal opportunities in federal research programs. We also value good networking with the Federal Ministry of Education and Research BMBF and the Science Council Wissenschaftsrat to discuss the frame conditions and perspectives for scientific careers and to develop new ideas for promoting women. Thus we have more opportunities to be present as experts in legislation processes and in the development for new programs. More and more we are asked for statements and reports regarding the situation of female scientists, and we elaborate discourses of quota and targets.


EPWS: What is your agenda for the coming months?


M. W.: We want to guarantee that the new German “Excellence Initiative” continues with a focus on gender equality. Another main topic for our annual conference this year is the discussion of the relationship between gender and diversity policies and measures.


EPWS: Are you collaborating with other EPWS members?


M. W.: Until now, unfortunately we do not. We only have some relation to our Swiss neighbor conference KOFRAH.


EPWS: What do you expect from EPWS? In what ways can it help you develop your action?


M. W.: Above all we expect a constructive exchange on possible ways towards an increased implementation of gender mainstreaming in EU programs and funding lines, like Horizon 2020, as well as an efficient networking in the European context. Another interesting topic is the internationalization of the academic system, its challenges for personal mobility and the impact on gender and family affairs. It would be helpful to discuss these topics with European colleagues and maybe develop together nice programs and gender networks.







Read all the previous Interviews with our Members here


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