Scientific Career and Parenthood 2013: Important for Parents in Sciences: No Meetings after 5 p.m.

19.11.2013
„A family friendly university is a top for all of us – men and women.“ With these words, the Dean of the MIN-Faculty, Prof. Heinrich Graener, apparently said exactly what the visitors of the first “Scientific Career and Parenthood”-Event were thinking.

In fact as many men as women had come to the CFEL-building to listen to the talk and the following discussion, to which the two Clusters of Excellence of Universität Hamburg, CUI and CliSAP, and the Career Center had invited.

One of the topics, mothers and fathers who work in sciences inevitably have to think about, is the question what kind of possibilities for parental leave they have and how these affect their working contracts. Such cases fall under the “Act of Academic Fixed-Term Contract” (Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz), which the Jurist of the Deutsche Hochschulverband Dr. Ursula Preißler, who had come to the event from Bonn, outlined. However, questions from the audience quickly made clear, that it is not easy for researchers to combine the Act with their personal situation.

The following panel discussion showed the personal traps set for scientists as soon as they are responsible for children. David Grawe (Meteorological Institute of Universität Hamburg), Prof. Gudrid Moortgat-Prick, and Jun.-Prof. Rutger Boels (both II. Institute for Theoretical Physics of Universität Hamburg), and Dr. Isabell Melzer-Pellmann (CMS, DESY) – two fathers and two mothers, parents of seven children all together – described their individual careers. More or less important for all of them are: flexibility, meaning flexible working hours, a flexible employer, flexible child care especially during school holidays, and the personal support partners, grandparents, but also working groups can give.

What is especially difficult to handle are:

  • changes in general,
  • to communicate with colleagues on a regular basis (time is always limited)
  • to participate in conferences; for obvious reasons, scientists can’t do without conferences.

Moreover, everybody should decide each day, how he or she wants to use the time given, Prof. Boels recommended: “If it doesn’t fit in, don’t go to the Professorenrunde after 6 p.m. The participants gave two clear answers to the question asked by Prof. Jan Louis, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Cluster SFB 676, what the University could do to make life easier for mothers and fathers who work in sciences: No administrative meetings after 5 or 6 p.m. and the installation of unsupervised flexitime.

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