GERMAN BRIEF: WOMEN Grants for female scientists to focus on research work
May 2023: Young scientists, particularly female ones, are often overwhelmed by the demands put upon them. They have to research and publish, teach courses and take on administrative work, exchange ideas and network, often in combination with childcare. And at the same time, they must always keep an eye on the academic job market. The quality of their work, their career prospects and their private lives suffer as a consequence.
To alert academic institutions, politics and the public to the wasteful neglect of some of the brightest academics, the German Hans-Böckler Foundation provides annual grants to give young researchers the time and space to allow them to make their mark and embark on a lasting career in science.
The grants, which have been awarded since 2018, are used to fund partial substitutes for the teaching duties of the award winners for one or two semesters. In return, the universities of the recipients will each receive 20,000 euros in funding per semester from the German Federation of Trade Unions' talent development programme. The recipients will be allowed to focus primarily on their research work, an essential prerequisite for obtaining a permanent professorship.
In 2023, three outstanding young female scientists have been awarded the ‘Maria Weber Grant’, named after the former (1972 to 1982) deputy chairwoman of the German Federation of Trade Unions (Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund, DGB).
This year’s recipients are
• Dr Renate Hartwig is a junior professor of development economics at the Georg-August University of Göttingen.
• Dr Sarah May is a research associate at the Albert-Ludwig University in Freiburg.
• Dr Almut Peukert is a junior professor for work, organisation and gender at the University of Hamburg.
Renate Hartwig works on gender aspects of demography and migration, among other topics. She has given her current research project a title that she herself calls controversial: ‘Missing women & angry young men’. In it, she examines how societies develop when there are significantly fewer young women than men. A phenomenon that can be observed in China as well as in eastern Germany.
Sarah May’s major topic is wood. Based on interviews and observations in forestry operations and government agencies, in sawmills and carpentry shops, in instrument-making workshops and industrial plants, she wants to examine how the many different actors deal with the challenges that climate change poses for traditional forms of forest management.
The research topic that drives Almut Peukert accompanies everyone throughout their lives: care work for children, the elderly, and the sick. Who cares for whom (or not) is a compelling topic that can bring society together or drive it apart. "I research the changes in paid and unpaid care work, parenthood and family and how social and family policies influence this."
What the award winners have in common is that they were able to convince the outside world of the high quality and charisma of their work.
Junior professors applying for the grant must have already undergone a positive interim evaluation, while post-doctoral researchers must submit an expert report. In addition, the Hans Böckler Foundation conducts a peer review process.
The Hans Böckler Foundation is the research funding organisation of the DGB. According to its statutes, the organisation is committed to the values of freedom and self-determination of people as well as to justice and solidarity in society.
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