Women were appointed to 13 of the 23 new professorships over the course of the past year, meaning that we just barely missed our goal of having 25 percent of all full professorships and professorships held by women.
By Prof. Dr. Silvia Schroer, Vice-Rector for Quality
The nationwide women’s strike on June 14, 2019, put a spotlight on the topic of gender equality – and the situation at the University of Bern was no different. This was demonstrated by the presentation of this year's Prix Lux equal opportunity prize: Of the 16 nominations received, five were related to the women’s strike. The Student Union of the University of Bern (SUB) was honored for its longstanding commitment to equality and diversity.
The University of Bern was involved in collaborative projects across multiple universities within the scope of swissuniversities’ “Equal Opportunity and University Development” program. These projects include the digital “Diversity Toolbox” for equal opportunity officers, researchers and lecturers, a benchmarking project by the University of St. Gallen as well as H.I.T., a program aimed at promoting women in positions of leadership at universities and a gender-sensitive management culture in academia. The University of Bern is the leading house for the “chance_be” collaboration project aimed at promoting equal opportunities in students’ choice of career and field of study for the three universities in Bern.
Not only the university’s national, but also its international networks bore fruit in 2019: The University of Bern initiated the “Gender and Diversity” task force within a network entitled “The Guild”, which is made up of 19 European universities, and held the task force’s first meeting at the University of Bern. The guests, who came from all over Europe, were impressed by the most recent figures released by the University of Bern: While it might have just barely missed its goal of having 25 percent of all full professorships and professorships held by women, the university still managed to make impressive progress with respect to its new hires: women were appointed to 13 of 23 new professorships (57 percent). The Executive Board of the University of Bern used its annual strategy meetings as an opportunity to address the issue of unequal gender distribution and encouraged faculties with a low proportion of women, in particular, to take the DORA Declaration into account in their recruitment procedures in order to obtain a more comprehensive assessment of a candidate’s academic performance. A new awareness-raising video entitled “Wanted: Female Professor”, that points out obstacles and provides recommendations on ensuring equal opportunities in the recruitment procedure, was shown at the beginning of each recruitment commission meeting.
"The Executive Board of the University of Bern used its strategy meetings as an opportunity to address the issue of unequal gender distribution."
Prof. Dr. Silvia Schroer, Vice-Rector for Quality
The third annual COMET career development program was a huge success and provided coaching, mentoring and training opportunities to 20 female postdocs and habilitation candidates, who, as part of the program, had an opportunity to plan the next steps of their career on their path to a professorship. Within the scope of its advisory services for dual career couples, the University of Bern helped some 20 partners of newly-arrived professors and postdocs relaunch their careers in Switzerland. A new offer, Plan B, was introduced as part of a joint project with the KIHOB Foundation, which provides childcare services at Bern universities: home-based childcare if children are ill, parents need to be absent for short periods of time for professional reasons or if they need to take examinations.