Thursday, January 4, 2018
Germany’s Max Planck Society of research institutes has launched a women-only program of tenure-track positions to improve its gender balance and stop rivals poaching its best female scientists.
The Lise Meitner excellence program, named after the pioneering early-20th-century physicist, is one of several women-only hiring initiatives that some observers believe are becoming more common while the proportion of women in top research positions remains stubbornly low.
Backed by more than 30 million euros ($35.5 million), the society will create up to 10 five-year research group leader positions annually for the next four years. Unlike the network’s previous women-only initiative to recruit group leaders, which ended in 2015, these positions will be on the tenure track, meaning that recipients get the chance to make their positions permanent at the end of the period.
Grietje Molema, president of the Dutch Network of Women Professors and a professor at the University of Groningen, said that women-only programs were getting more common in Europe and called the move by Max Planck a “good step forward.”
“Affirmative action” was an “essential part” of tackling the underrepresentation of women in research, she said.
The concern is if these positions become the only positions for which women are practically considered.