RWTH Aachen becoming a Family-Aware Workplace

Post in: German

The structure of higher education creates a tension: funding is organized around short term research projects which offer young scientists jobs which get them started in science. On the other hand, these short term funding sources offer very little long-term security.
In some national contexts, young people assume they’ll piece together short-term contract work for years, perhaps an entire career (see the research from the GLOBALIFE and FlexCAREER Projects, links below): workers experience this flexibility, insecurity, and precariousness as a typical stage of life or as a common situation for a large majority of workers across all age cohorts. In Germany, secure uninterrupted labor market norms still dominate discourse, public policy, and expectations. Young people want a sense of financial security before starting a family. Short-term research contracts don’t tend to offer enough security for them to feel comfortable starting families, and this seems to be especially true in Germany.
A host of other reasons also contribute to why young scientists postpone or avoid starting families. On March 25, the RWTH conducted their third internal review for the Audit process to become a “Family-Aware” University (Familiengerechte Hochschule) and address these obstacles. The goal is to have a university culture and to create university structures that create normalcy for being a parent and being a scientist. The Hertie Foundation has created the Audit, whereby firms as well as universities create their own new methods or adapt from others as to how they’ll improve the opportunities for their workers to combine work and family.

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