A pact for diversity in science

What future do you wish to have for your own PhD? And is there anything you would like to change for the next generation of doctoral researchers? N2 – Network of Networks currently deals with those questions and aims to initiate a dialogue about the future of doctoral researchers in Germany. In a joint political statement of N2, the PhD networks of Leibniz, Max Planck and Helmholtz demand a national pact for diversity and a cultural change in science.

In early 2017, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research claimed that a scientific career is getting more and more attractive. N2 does not share this overly optimistic perspective and identified several systemic flaws that need to be addressed with appropriate measures:

  • Enabling national and international mobility by securing the financial coverage.
  • A new and innovative scientific management separating the professional supervision and disciplinary leadership.
  • Fully paid full-time positions for four years as a realistic time-frame for a PhD and positions subject to social insurance contributions especially for those doctoral researchers who work on stipends.

On top of that, N2 makes a case for a phase of

intersectoral mobility. A very large majority of doctoral researchers does not stay in academia and leaves science after finishing the PhD. During their PhD, doctoral researchers should have the opportunity to test alternative career paths in non-scientific organizations, such as foundations, private companies, and public institutions. Such a measure would also foster dialogue and exchanges between science and the non-scientific sphere. However, this does not imply that a scientific career should be less appealing than a career outside academia. A pact for diversity would help science to attract and keep the best minds.

You can read more about this in the comment published on the ZEIT Chancen Brief newsletter on October 16th.