The aim of equal opportunities activities within the Leibniz Association is to guarantee equal opportunities and prospects to men and women when it comes to realising their individual career goals, based on their qualifications. This applies across all levels of the organisation. The Leibniz Association follows the DFG’s cascade model and helps the institutions introduce flexible target quotas for women at each level.

Women already account for a comparatively high proportion of research staff at the Leibniz Association: 47 per cent in 2021. Among PhD students and postdocs, the Leibniz Association has nearly achieved equal representation, despite the high proportion of institutions specialising in natural sciences and engineering. Women make up 49 per cent of the association’s PhD students, and 43 per cent of postdocs. However, women are still under-represented in higher academic status groups. 33 per cent of full/associate professors (W2/C3 pay scale) are women, and women account for 20 per cent of positions at top management level (scientific directors of institutes).

The Leibniz Equality Report 2017 notes that the proportion of women among the 34 new appointments at top management level in the years 2012 to 2016 was 47.1 per cent, so a positive trend is clearly visible here.

This trend is strengthened by the fact that Leibniz institutions are actively making an effort to appoint women at all phases of the recruitment process. The recommendations included in the Standards for Appointments to Academic Management Positions within the Leibniz Association deserve strong support here. As an official supporter of AcademiaNet, the world’s largest database containing profiles of excellent women academics in all fields, the Leibniz Association is also supporting the public visibility of outstanding women researchers when it comes to filling management positions and positions on decision-making bodies in Germany and the rest of Europe.

The Leibniz Association views measures to support equality and diversity as a way of both mapping and driving cultural change within its institutions. This process will only be sustainable if it is supported, practised and driven by leaders within the institutions. The Leibniz Association therefore sees the promotion of equality and diversity as a leadership task. At a Leibniz management retreat in May 2019 on ‘Equality and work-life balance – Engines of cultural change within the Leibniz institutions’, participants discussed best practices from within the institutes and heard from external experts.