We asked around the faculty what do you actually think we do. Most receive emails from us announcing "Women in Tech"-Events, student networking meetings, or other information about grants or the like. The attendees then see us at the events, since we run those as well. But our duties don't end there, because the Gender Equality Officers have a lot more to do.
Few people know about all the commissions and bodies of university policy of which we are (mostly advisory) members. Our main roles on these committees are to support, advise, and report. That's right, we advise not only faculty members but also commissions. But beyond that, we also attend other meetings to plan further steps or to educate ourselves. We have therefore compiled an overview of our committee work below, which, in addition to enforcing the measures from the Equal Opportunity Plan, are also part of our tasks.
To get started, we'll first begin with the question:
Are we the only Gender Equality Officers (GBAs)?
No, because gender equality work is a (legal) obligation for the university. The Brandenburg Higher Education Act (BbgHG) §68 stipulates that a central Gender Equality Officer is elected for 4 years at each university. In addition, decentralized GBAs can be elected for e.g. faculties, which are assigned tasks of the central GBA for the duration of the term of office (2 years). Thus, there are decentralized and centralized GBAs. The decentralized GBAs include the GBAs of the faculties, central scientific institutions, university library, presidential area & central administration. The central GBAs include Christina Wolff and her deputies. For the office of the GBAs one is elected by the faculty members, i.e. mainly by students at the Digital Engineering Faculty (DEF).
Having addressed the above, let's move on to the second question:
How do we work?
We provide advice and support on all matters relating to gender equality. Therefore, we are part of many commissions and boards. In addition, we meet regularly for open faculty meetings, take part in further training courses and then, for the most part, work on tasks and answer e-mails in between.
In the following, we will be introducing you to various commissions, committees and meetings. We will also explain what is our concrete role there and how much time is involved.
Berufungskommission (BK) appointment committees
Senate Commission for Equal Opportunity (CGK)
We keep you informed about our meetings by providing protocols where you can read our reports or read our decisions for the next activities. The minutes are available for faculty members to view after logging in at gba.team/protokolle .We would be happy if you read through them regularly and also like to ask questions about them.
There you will find the minutes of the Faculty Council, the CGK and our meetings as well as meetings with the Women's Representative of HPI.
That's it, right? Not quite, we have another regular meeting regarding gender equality:
Exchange on gender equality issues between DEF and HPI
Since the end of February 2020, Prof. Katharina Hölzle has been dedicating particular attention to the topic of women’s advancement as the Hasso Plattner Institute’s (HPI) women’s representative. A women's representative alongside the Gender Equality Officers (GBAs)? That generated some confusion, but we’re clearing it up:
GBAs are required by law in the Brandenburg Higher Education Act (BbgHG), whereas women's representative are less common in the private sector due to the lack of legal provisions in this area.
The GBAs at the Digital Engineering Faculty (DEF) work on the basis of the Gender Equality Plan, which must exist according to the BbgHG. Such a legal basis and further regulations such as a duty of confidentiality or freedom from instructions are not existent for the women’s representative. In addition, she was appointed by the managing director of the HPI, while we GBAs of the DEF are elected every two years.
In order to avoid overlaps and parallel offers, we meet regularly and discuss our next steps. At these meetings we regularly have Sina Jurkowlaniec from the public relations team at HPI with us. A meeting usually lasts 1-2 hours.
These were all the regular meeting dates. Another component of our committee work is our regular participation in further training courses:
In the course of gender equality work, we GBAs are confronted with very different tasks, questions and problems. The quality of the gender equality work to be carried out depends on many factors: experience in office, knowledge transfer from predecessors, the amount of time off work, the availability of opportunities for exchange with other gender equality stakeholders, attendance at training courses, and personal interest in the topic.
Being an Gender Equality Officer is not a profession and is often more of a vocation. The knowledge required for this must be acquired proactively and successively. To support this process, the Equal Opportunity Coordination Office has designed a target-group-specific and free continuing education program with external trainers, as well as annual retreats.
We regularly participate in professional development modules on gender equality work. Past topics of the modules were:
- Legal framework of gender equality work at universities.
- Anti-bias training & action strategies in appointment and personnel selection procedures
- Working with resistance & empowerment & self-care
- Counseling in cases of sexualized discrimination and violence at universities
The retreat of the GBAs takes place annually, where, in addition to workshops and lectures, we network with all other Gender Equality Officers and get to know the team from the Equal Opportunity Coordination Office at the University of Potsdam. At this two-day event, there will be an introduction to the legal issues of gender equality work, basics of intersectional gender equality work at universities, processes in selection and appointment committees, and practical work introductions. Timing-wise, the retreat takes place at the beginning of the winter semester.