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Gender and STEM in Germany: Policies Enhancing Women's Participation in Academia

Kathinka L. Best, Ulrike Sanwald, Susanne Ihsen, Angela Ittel

Abstract


During the past ten years, a number of national programmes have been established targeting an increase in women's participation in the academic fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in Germany. Women's participation rates did increase but still remain low. In the scope of two analyses, we study this development and the relevance of the introduced initiatives for women's representation and career progression. We first provide an overview of the key initiatives, grouped into those (1) "attracting" and (2) "retaining" women in academia. Next, we study the initiatives' specific effects on women's tendencies to enter and stay in academic STEM fields by analysing student survey data and career paths of recently appointed female STEM professors.

The survey findings suggest that "attracting" initiatives positively influence female students' decisions to choose STEM fields. Nonetheless, they experience a low level of professional integration. Correspondingly, the career analysis confirms a comparably low share of women "retained" in STEM fields. Yet interestingly, in retrospect, women's relative share decreases by "only" six percentage points from first-year student to professor status; the largest drop occurs at habilitation. We conclude with a brief discussion of the results and their implications for policy makers and researchers.    


Keywords


Germany; gender equality; academia; STEM fields; policies

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