Power Hour at FHI

The Women's Network is forming

April 06, 2023

Without networks, we don't get very far - either privately or professionally. As loose connections, they can establish contacts and open doors. Stronger connections help us reflect and follow through with our plans. These network structures must be allowed to form, they must be maintained and communicated, especially among groups that do not make up the majority of decision-makers - white male networks are already strong and well developed.

Institutions in the STEM fields are working tirelessly toward the goal of attracting and retaining more women. In addition to conscious recruiting, internal structures must also be adapted to the realities of employees' lives. That's why we want to make offers that are more than just nice words.

In its equal opportunities plan, the Fritz Haber Institute has set itself various fields of action and measures to:

  • support women in particular in reconciling work and family life,
  • attract and promote female scientists,
  • achieve equal opportunities, and
  • to perpetuate the idea of equality.

Since March 2023, the three new FHI Gender Equality Officers Sandra Eibenberger-Arias, Ilka Storbeck and Maryke Abibata Kouyate have been in office and have immediately followed their appointment with action. In the Equality Plan, events are planned where established female scientists are invited to share their experiences with female scientists at the Institute.

Dr. Mallory Green (MP), together with the Gender Equality Officers, has now revived this Power Hour in March. Following her talk at FHI, Prof. Dr. Olga Smirnova, TU Berlin and Max Born Institute in Berlin, was the first invited scientist, for the new round of the Power Hour series. All interested female scientists at FHI gathered for networking at the Haber Villa.

Olga Smirnova gave a detailed account of her career path. She talked about her beginnings in the Soviet Union, the role and importance of family in choosing and pursuing a career, gender-related expectations, social pressures, her own aspirations and dreams, and the difficulties she encountered along the way. The open way of also talking about more personal topics ensured that the exchange that followed was not only of a scientific nature, but also concerned larger areas of social responsibility. It dealt with the importance of female mentors, female leadership and the responsibility that comes with it.

This first network meeting showed how important such a protected exchange is. In particular, it gave female scientists the opportunity to ask personal questions, talk about their experiences and receive support. 

Thank you to the organizers, Mallory Green and the Gender Equality Officers, for planning and implementing this important first meeting. Networks like this thrive on the engagement of the participants. The Gender Equality Officers look forward to receiving further requests for cooperation in order to provide even more support for female scientists at the Fritz Haber Institute.

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