Gender Equality at MAKI

To take into account the special situation of a collaborative research alliance at TU Darmstadt, MAKI is highly committed to gender equality between all human beings in science.

Professor Andy Schürr is the Gender Equality Officer at MAKI. The gender equality action plan of MAKI has been honoured with the Franziska-Braun award in 2016. Our gender equality targets are:

- to increase the number of female scientists and researchers in leading roles

- to attract more women in all phases of their scientific career in the MAKI field of research

- to make it easier for all employees to combine family and work

With a transparent gender equality action plan for all qualification levels, MAKI builds on established instruments to make female role models more visible, to network, train, coach and support as necessary while creating the necessary awareness and structures to do so. We collaborate intensively with the Gender Equality Office of TU Darmstadt.

Since 2014, the “Female Student Travel Awards” are presented every year to excellent female students at TU Darmstadt and other universities engaged in the Collaborative Research Centre (CRC). Four winning places are sponsored by the CRCs MAKI and CROSSING. Since 2020 the RTG Privacy & Trust and since 2021 the LOEWE center emergenCITY are involved with one prize each.

Several first prices allow participation at conferences like the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, CrossFyre, Informatica Feminale or the “Ingenieurinnen Sommeruni” (summer university for female engineers) at Bremen University offering courses in project management, writing and communication training. This provides ambitious female students with an early insight into scientific conventions and facilitates networking with other female early-career researchers within this field of expertise. To ensure a lasting effect, these students are later also included in the networking programme of the Collaborative Research Centre along with the mentees of the “MAKI Female Mentoring and Networking” programme.

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This mentoring and networking programme builds a strong foundation for early-on involvement of female Master’s students in science and research. A select number of female students from related fields are offered early insights into scientific work. They receive help when entering the specialist community and are encouraged to network. Apart from a mentor on their side, these female students also have the opportunity to experience specialist conferences first hand at home and abroad accompanied by an experienced scientist and researcher each. To ensure a lasting effect and a positive development of the mentees, they are encouraged to participate in other networking programmes of the SFB, too.

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The “Networking of Women in Computing” gatherings managed by Professor Klara Nahrstedt and Dr. Sonja Bergsträßer offer female students, doctoral students and post-doctoral students the opportunity to discuss ideas with an international guest scientist or researcher in a casual atmosphere. At the same time, these gatherings provide ample opportunities for networking and sharing experiences among the participants. These events always address a specific topic and discuss for instance gender-specific career issues.

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In 2014, SFB MAKI initiated the series of lectures called “Ruzena Bajcsy Lectures on Communications and Resilience” which demonstrates quite clearly how many prominent female researchers actually deal with MAKI-related research topics. Ruzena Bajcsy, born in Bratislava in 1933, not only gave her name to this series of lectures, but also held the first lecture in 2014. She obtained her Master’s degree and doctorate at the Slovak Technical University in 1957 and 1967 respectively. This made her one of the first women in Slovakia to obtain a doctorate. She received many awards and is an internationally renowned scientist. This makes her a most fitting name giver for this series of lectures.

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Annually, the NeXT-Generation Lab offers courses about programming assistance systems for LEGO vehicles and the Green City workshop designed by LEGO to hundreds of pupils in the Rhine Main Area according to the motto “Programmieren bis es kracht” (programming till the crack of dawn). The teenagers are programming in commodity “Java” and no special tools, appropriate for youngsters, are used. The “NeXT-Generation Lab” organises one of the largest workshops at TU Darmstadt on “Girls Day” for 10 to 15-year old schoolgirls.

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MAKI supports and encourages its members to participate in personal development programmes organised by the Gender Consulting service team. Female (early career) researchers receive the opportunity (limited in time) to use personal coaching as a tool to develop their career. With its services, the Department of Human Resources and Organisational Development (POE) of TU Darmstadt assist them through this process and in finding a suitable coach. The costs for such a coaching are born by the SFB 1053 MAKI.

The Parent-and-Child-Room setup by the SFB gives employees the opportunity to take their children to work in exceptional situations. This way, MAKI enables a family-friendly and flexible structuring of workplaces.