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Germany’s New Gender Quota Highlights Inequality in the Scientific Community

Finnish researcher Saara Särmer awards the “Hasselhoff” seal to scientific panels that are staffed solely by men. Driving the point home,, a portal designed to help conference organizers find speakers, proves there are enough qualified women in the academic realm.

The gender quota has been ardently discussed in Germany and legislation has finally been passed. Starting in 2016, at least 30 percent of all corporate supervisory boards must be staffed by women. With this law in place, the economy takes a big step ahead of the scientific community.

Here, too, women remain underrepresented. In Germany, according to the Federal Statistical Office [Statistisches Bundesamt, Destatis], the ratio of female students amounts to 49.8 percent, 44.2 percent of whom graduate. However, only 21.3 percent of those students enter the workforce. The Finnish researcher has been observing this male hegemony with suspicion for a long time.

Since February, Särmer has shared her observations on her blog Congrats, you have an all male panel!, awarding the so-called “Hasselhoff” seal to scientific panels. On the blog, an image of David Hasselhoff, Baywatch star and epitome of manliness, gives the thumbs up to discussion panels consisting exclusively of men.

The international nonprofit organization Rails Girls (which spawned the Speakerinnen project), takes on the male scientist majority as well. On that platform scientists and researchers can create a profile to showcase their knowledge and abilities, thereby counteracting the common argument that there are not enough qualified women for conferences.

For more on gender equality in the science and technology industries, check out The 50/50 Pledge: What It Is and How It’s Redefining Tech


Photos: New York City Ballet, Peck © Alberto Oviedo, Schumacher © Paul Maffi, Binet and Thatcher © Reto Albertalli, Brandstrup © Henrik Bjerregrev

Original article by Tasnim Rödder published on June 1, 2015 by Enorm Magazin, “I’ve been looking for women”
Translation: Saskia Ketz
Editor: Irene Huhulea