19 July 2023
Former program coordinator and now CUI Managing Director Anika Ostermaier-Grabow (left) and Eileen Schwanold, now program coordinator, accepted the Equal Opportunity Prize 2023 with pleasure.
The mentoring program "dynaMENT: Mentoring for Women in Natural Sciences" has been awarded Universität Hamburg's Equal Opportunity Prize 2023. The program is a cooperation between DESY and the MIN Faculty of Universität Hamburg.
"The first Women's Sponsorship Award was established at the university back in 1996, followed by the Equal Opportunity Award in 2016," said Dr. Angelika Paschke-Kratzin, Equal Opportunity Commissioner at Universität Hamburg and Head of the Equal Opportunity Office, in her welcoming remarks at the "Hamburg Advanced Research Centre for Bioorganic Chemistry", short HARBOR, where the ceremony took place. "I am pleased that we can again give the award to such a successful project today."
"The Academic Senate's decision to award the program was unanimous," said Vice President Prof. Dr. Jetta Frost. Worldwide, she said, scientific careers for female scientists often stop after the doctorate or in the early postdoc phase. This phenomenon is mainly due to structural reasons, and it is commonly referred to as the "leaky pipeline." The dynaMENT mentoring program is important in counteracting this involuntary premature career end by encouraging female scientists and providing them with strategies to deal with hurdles in the system.
Laudatory Prof. Dr. Norbert Ritter, Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Natural Sciences, confirmed how important the relationship between mentor and mentee is in this context. "The careful selection of mentors and mentees, known as matching, in this program makes a major contribution to the targeted and individual empowerment of female scientists. Fix the system, not the women, should be the goal of any gender equality activities."
Scope for new ideas
The €10,000 prize for outstanding, visible and sustainable commitment to gender equality measures in the areas of gender equality, diversity and compatibility was accepted by program coordinator Eileen Schwanold, who is also the diversity officer in the Cluster of Excellence "CUI: Advanced Imaging of Matter", and Anika Ostermaier-Grabow, administrative director in the cluster and formerly responsible for dynaMENT. Both agreed that such a program meant support at eye level for the mentees, far beyond the mentoring relationship but also among themselves. "I am not alone," is what numerous participants have realized at the end of the dynaMENT mentoring program. A sustainable network is created that can support and accompany the mentees even many years later.
"From my own personal life story as a first-generation academic, I know how powerful it can be to have a mentor at your side who supports you and also shows you paths that you might not have taken on your own," said Eileen Schwanold. The program coordinator thanked all the partners involved and especially the mentees for the trust they have placed in her. "This openness on the part of the mentees is what makes it possible for me to tailor the program precisely to their needs and thus do my job well. I don't take that for granted," Schwanold concluded. The prize money leaves room in the future for new formats, the general and intersectional expansion of the project, or even stronger alumni and networking activities.