2000 - 2016

In November 2000, Ursula Mättig was elected as gender equality officer by the gender equality officer’s advisory council (comprising three members of each status group) and appointed by the Senate. During her time in office, she focused on developing measures to increase the percentage of women in science at the University of Bonn, establishing programs for the recruitment and promotion of women early-career researchers, establishing and expanding the options for childcare available at the University and making visible the history of women scientists at the University of Bonn.

VOR BILDER – Pioneering Women at the University of Bonn

The great interdisciplinary exhibition project “VOR BILDER – Wissenschaftlerinnen der Universität Bonn. Historische, soziologische und künstlerische Perspektiven“ (ROLE MODELS/PRE IMAGES [untranslateble wordplay] – Women Scientists of the University of Bonn. Perspectives from History, Sociology and Art), May 21 to June 20, 2003, was designed to publicly celebrate and honor the University’s pioneering women, and to confront the omnipresent galleries of male ancestors in the spaces of the University with female counter-images.
The main part of the exhibition was developed in cooperation with Bonn women scientists from the Departments of History and Cultural Studies, Sociology and Art History, as well as with the archive of the University: it was a panorama showing the portraits, biographies and extraordinary achievements of the first women scientists in Bonn, “who may still serve as role models/pre images today” (catalogue introduction, p. 8). Its approach was not to show the women scientists as “lone fighters, but as participants in scientific discourses” and part of the history of science at the University of Bonn. The documentary part was complemented by a creative part: students of renowned contemporary women artists were invited to celebrate the women scientists presented in the exhibition with their own multimedia contributions. These works were displayed in the main building’s rondel, in the Department of Art History and in the Academic Art Museum. The exhibition was accompanied by a catalogue and a documentary publication.

© Gleichstellungsbüro
Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© Gleichstellungsbüro

'Women Students' and 'Working in a University Office'

The Gender Equality Office organized two other exhibitions during this time. A 2008 exhibition of caricatures, “Wenn Weiber studieren” (When Women Study – ‘Weiber’ is a more disparaging term than ‘Frauen’, but has no contemporaneous English equivalent) was developed by Ursula Mättig and Martina Pottek on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of women’s being granted the right to enroll. It assembled about 50 drawings on the topic of women students from historical and contemporary newspapers and satirical journals. In this way, it not only honored women from the past who completed their studies in the face of all this resistance, but also made clear how many clichés and societal expectations remain persistently unchanged an entire century later. 
"Mit Schirm, Charme und Methode – Arbeitsplatz Hochschulbüro" (Working in a University Office; the German title plays on the German title for 1960s cult TV series The AvengersMit Schirm, Charme und Melone), a traveling exhibition developed by the University of Hanover and showcasing the many different types of work done by secretaries, members of administrative staff and office workers, reached into the past to provide a historical retrospective on the first – predominantly female – typists and secretaries in the field of higher education, as well as into the future, presenting a speculative vision of everyday working life in 2050.

Perspective: Science

A lot of importance was placed on encouraging more women to enter degree programs especially in the natural sciences and thus to work towards a long-term increase in women in those subjects. In 2001, the Gender Equality Office launched the Schnupper-Uni “Perspektive Math-Nat” (Taster University “Perspective: Mathematics and Natural Sciences”) for female high school students and graduates from Bonn and the surrounding area. The project took place with great success on an annual basis for 17 years. In 2018, it was taken over by the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, where it continues to this day.

The brochure PerspektiveProfessorin—ProfessorinenPerspektive (Perspective: Woman Professor—Women Professors’s Perspectives; 2001; 2nd edition 2005; continued online 2010-21) introduced all women professors teaching at the University of Bonn at this point by way of short autobiographical essays. Their contributions were intended not only to make visible their diverse areas of research and publications, but also to offer retrospective insights into their development, including both positive and negative experiences, and thus to make these accessible to young women researchers.

From 2002, the Gender Equality Office regularly published the print magazine FrauenPerspektiven (Women’s Perspectives), featuring articles on women’s and gender equality policy, interviews or reports on women’s and gender studies at the University of Bonn. Many back issues can be accessed in our online archive.

© Gleichstellungsbüro
© Gleichstellungbüro

Supporting Women (Early-Career) Researchers

Two programs for the promotion of women early-career researchers that continue to this day were launched in 2004 and 2006 respectively: the Mentoring and Training Program MeTra, directed by Martina Pottek, and the Maria von Linden Program for the support and promotion of women early-career researchers. After a successful two-year pilot phase, MeTra was permanently established, thus becoming the first mentoring program in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia to be implemented on a permanent line of funding. It was initially addressed to women early-career researchers at the highest stages of qualification (junior group leaders, habilitands and associate professors). Over time, it was opened to doctoral and postdoctoral researchers and continued to be expanded.

The Maria von Linden Program was designed to recruit and encourage women to continue their careers in science by providing financial support or additional staff. Its portfolio included travel grants for research trips in Germany and abroad, annual scholarships for women scientists qualified for professorship, and the financing of research assistants for habilitands and later for newly appointed professors.

The Annemarie Schimmel Scholarship was initiated in 2014. It targeted women postdoctoral researchers who had applied or were in the process of applying for funding for their own position. The scholarship was administered by the Gender Equality Office until 2018 and funded through the means of the Gender Equality Office and the Faculties.

Promoting Women's and Gender Studies

The history of the Women’s Studies Work Group (founded in 1983) illustrates the decades of struggle to establish and gain recognition for women’s and gender studies at the University of Bonn. In 2004, it changed its name to Forum Frauen- und Geschlechterforschung (Forum for Women’s and Gender Studies; FFG). The Forum’s objective was the promotion of interdisciplinary dialogue on central questions and research areas and the establishment of an interdisciplinary platform for networking and greater visibility for research projects in this area at the University of Bonn. Until its dissolution in 2012, the Forum was under the direction of Sabine Sielke, Professor for North American Literatures and Cultures and director of the North American Studies Program. It was actively supported by the Gender Equality Office. The cooperation resulted in panel discussions, guest lectures, conferences and publications. From 2003 onwards, the Gender Studies Prize for excellent final theses drawing on the field of gender studies was awarded once a year.

On the initiative of the Gender Equality Officer and several University of Bonn scientists, a concept for an extracurricular “Certificate for Gender Competence” was in development from 2009 to 2014. It was intended to certify that students had acquired knowledge, methodology and working techniques from the field of gender research. The contents of the classes to be featured were to enable their students to engage in an analysis of relations between genders, discrimination and privilege in social, cultural, historical and political contexts. Academically, the program was to be administered by the Center for Cultural Studies. Ultimately, the so-called Gender Certificate could not be implemented due to structural barriers.

© KLINKEBIEL Kommunikationsdesign
Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© pexels

First Policies for Protection Against Sexual Harassment

By virtue of her office, the Gender Equality Officer had always been the first contact person in cases of sexualized discrimination and violence, which has always existed and continues to exist at the University. However, the first Policies for Protection Against Sexual Harassment, were not passed by the Rectorate until 2011. The initial proposal for this document was drafted by the Gender Equality Office and the Gender Equality Commission.

In 2018, the Gender Equality Office revised the Policies and submitted a new draft, which was examined by the administration and the Rectorate and passed in 2022.

Promoting the Compatibility of Research, Studying, Work and Family

In May 2005, the "Uni-Servicebüro für Eltern” (University Office of Services of Parents; USE) was established under the direction of Regina Umbach and based within the Gender Equaltiy Office. It was intended to assist all members of the University in questions of childcare: whether regular childcare in daily life, childcare for children of elementary school age during school holidays, information on available daycares or simply organizing a babysitter.

One of its first projects in the summer of 2005 was a survey on the topic childcare among all University employees. The results made it clear that childcare options were required during the school holidays, that there were insufficient options for children under the age of three, and that there was a need to improve the flexible emergency childcare system. Based on the results of the survey, the University funded the following measures: in the first two weeks of the North Rhine-Westphalia summer holidays in 2006, university employees were offered childcare for children of elementary school age near their place of work. 8 places for children under the age of three were created at the newly opened private daycare facility “pikkolino”. In addition, the “pme Familienservice” (pme Family Service) could be called on at short notice in childcare emergencies.

After long years of search and negotiations, the first daycare facility sponsored by the Studierendenwerk was opened at the Newmanhaus on Adenauerallee. In September of 2014, the second University-owned daycare facility ‘KiTa Auf dem Hügel’ started operating in Endenich. Based on a concept developed by the Gender Equality Office in 2011, the USE was converted into the current Office of Family Services, which is part of the human resources division. In December of the same year, the University was awarded the basic certificate of recognition as a family-friendly university.

© Gleichstellungsbüro


Ursula Mättig, Martina Pottek, Barbara Schellewald, Sabine Sielke (Hg.)

VOR BILDER. Wissenschaftlerinnen der Universität Bonn. Historische, soziologische und künstlerische Perspektiven. [Ausstellungskatalog anlässlich der Ausstellung VOR BILDER - Wissenschaftlerinnen der Universität Bonn, 21.05.-20.06.2003]

Julia Anspach, Ursula Mättig,  Martina Pottek (Hg.)

Das Bild spricht obschon es stumm ist. Dokumentation im Anschluss an die Ausstellung 'VOR BILDER Wissenschaftlerinen der Universität Bonn.' ZOOM Schriftenreihe der Gleichstellungsbeauftragten der Rheinischen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, Band 6, 2004.

Ursula Mättig (Hg.)

Perspektive Professorin – Professorinnen Perspektive im Jahr 2000 an der Rheinischen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn. ZOOM Schriftenreihe der Gleichstellungsbeauftragten der Rheinischen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn. Erste Auflage, Band 5 , 2001. [Zweite, überarbeitete und erweiterte Auflage, Band 7, 2004.]

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