Issue 42, September 2013
bulletSTEM Education
bulletEvent: Strategies for Recruitment, Retention, and Mentoring of Women in STEM: US-German Perspectives
bulletGo MINT! Interview with Executive Director Dr. Ulrike Struwe
bulletThe Right Chemistry: BASF Sparks Kids' Love for Science
bulletInnovation: German Start-Up Transforms Education
bulletFinding a Mentor Abroad - University of Cologne Offers Support to International Female Scholars
STEM Education

The Wirtschaftswunder - Germany's rapid economic recovery following the Second World War - was largely nourished by the country's skilled workforce in high-tech industries. During the recent Economic Crisis, Germany has once again demonstrated its market stability. Today, however, Germany as a business location is facing a shortage of qualified employees in fields that once led to the economic miracle. Known in the U.S. as STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), these fields have a similarly catchy acronym in German - MINT (mathematics, informatics, natural sciences, and technology).

In order to confront this challenge, Germany's federal government introduced the Qualification Initiative in 2008. Initial results already show a considerably greater number of students deciding in favor of a degree in one of the MINT fields. This has led to an annual growth rate of 59,000 newly employed MINT academics, totaling nearly 2.3 million in 2010. With a 5.6% increase since 2005, the workforce participation rate of vocationally-trained MINT employees has also improved in recent years, reaching a total of almost 9.2 million in 2010. 


Part of this success is due to Germany's efforts to diversify traditionally male-dominated fields. According to a report by Germany's Gemeinsame Wissenschaftskonferenz, the country features 319 active initiatives, which are intended to increase the percentage of women in MINT fields. Amounting to 42% in 2000, the percentage of female graduates in mathematics and statistics grew to 59% in 2011. The natural sciences show a similar increase of female graduates, from 27% in 2000 to 42% in 2011.

STEM/MINT education is important for German and U.S. economic prosperity. With the goal of strengthening transatlantic dialogue on this topic, the GCRI will host an event series addressing different strategies and best practices for STEM/MINT education. For more information on the first event on "Strategies for Recruitment, Retention, and Mentoring of Women in STEM: US-German Perspectives," please read the event announcement below.   


article2Event: Strategies for Recruitment, Retention, and Mentoring of Women in STEM: US-German Perspectives 

October 16, 2013, 12:00 - 3:30 p.m.
Sponsors: University of Cologne, Lehigh University, German Center for Research and Innovation
Location: German Center for Research and Innovation, 871 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY

A thorough understanding of the complexities of recruitment, retention, and mentoring of women in STEM needs to be grounded in empirical research and best practices. How do social scientists, university administrators, and state officials work together to assess employment practices on campus? Which strategies can help to implement improved decision-making processes on issues such as hiring, tenure, and promotion? To what extent do German and US American research universities support the evolution towards a better campus climate?

The keynote speakers, Beth Mitchnek, Professor of Geography at the University of Arizona and Program Director for the ADVANCE grant program of the National Science Foundation (NSF), and Anja Steinbeck, Pro-Rector for Finances, Planning, and Gender, and Professor for Civil, Commercial, Company, and Intellectual Property Law at the University of Cologne, will discuss multidimensional gender equality strategies of universities in Germany and the United States.

After a short reception, the transatlantic dialogue will continue with a panel discussion featuring Jackie Krasas (Lehigh University), Britt Dahmen (University of Cologne), and Shobha Bhatia (Syracuse University).

To watch a video on University of Cologne's approach to establishing gender equality on campus, please click here.

For more information on the event, click here.  


article3Go MINT! Interview with Executive Director Dr. Ulrike Struwe


Germany has a reputation globally as a center for research, but the country's shortage of qualified employees in MINT subjects remains a challenge. Go MINT!, the National Pact for Women in MINT Careers, a project of the Competence Center for Technology, Diversity and Equal Chances in Bielefeld, Germany, aims to counter this shortage by sparking young women's interest in scientific and technical subjects and encouraging them to pursue a career in one of the MINT fields.

In her interview with GCRI, Go MINT!'s Executive Director, Dr. Ulrike Struwe, describes the current situation and future challenges of women studying and working in MINT fields in Germany. "Go MINT! was very active in attracting more young women to scientific and technical majors," she said, "[but] attracting young women to study MINT subjects is only the beginning."

Besides her work for Go MINT!, Dr. Struwe has also been a managing board member of the Competence Center for Technology, Diversity and Equal Chances. She studied sociology at the University of Bielefeld, where she received her Ph.D. for research on the vocational orientation of young people with technical interests. To read the interview, click here.  


article4The Right Chemistry: BASF Sparks Kids' Love for Science


As the largest chemical company in the world, BASF has social responsibility. To address this issue, BASF is strongly committed to educational projects in the proximity of its sites in the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region. The company's aim is to improve education and raise interest in the natural sciences among youth. In so doing, BASF hopes to boost the region's overall attractiveness and competitiveness.

At the BASF headquarters in Ludwigshafen, Germany, more than 18,000 students annually have the opportunity to become researchers by performing supervised experiments in the BASF student labs. The success of this educational strategy has led to the opening of BASF Kids' Labs in 35 countries worldwide. In the United States and Mexico, for example, more than 12,000 students visited Kids' Labs in 2012. For its Teens' and Kids' Labs, BASF was awarded Germany's Land of Ideas prize 2012.

BASF not only teaches children at its own sites, but it also engages in other regional projects that target all educational levels. Starting in early childhood, BASF's active commitment to the Education Initiative campaign aims to improve education and development opportunities for children irrespective of their social background. As a founding member of the corporate network Wissensfabrik - Unternehmen f�r Deutschland, BASF further encourages primary school students to take a technical approach to discovering their environment. To foster and reward the scientific spirit of talented high-school students, BASF has sponsored the renowned competition Jugend forscht since 1966. For further information, please click here.   


article5Innovation: German Start-Up Transforms Education

K.lab Berlin is an exciting start-up that is developing web-based applications for the education sector. The team hopes to change the educational process by creating tools that make teaching and learning easier, more effective, and more enjoyable. K.lab's goal is to leverage modern technologies to help teachers and students get better results from their daily routines.

The young Berlin-based company has a sustainable growth model dedicated to implementing meaningful ideas for a higher quality education. One of their first products is the online platform - a tool for high school teachers. As a web application and search engine for high quality teaching materials from renowned German publishers, it features a virtual desk, where teachers can access, organize, and edit their material to prepare their classes. The web platform, which includes a secure cloud service, offers teachers immediate, unrestricted access to all the teaching materials they need at any time.

More than 17,000 teachers form Germany and beyond are using to prepare their classes. Earlier this summer K.lab visited New York to evaluate future opportunities for adapting its technology in the United States.    


article6Finding a Mentor Abroad - University of Cologne Offers Support to International Female Scholars 

By Katrin Pieper

In October 2012, the Welcome Centre at the International Office of the University of Cologne launched the first cycle of its Mentoring Program for International Female Scholars (IFS-Mentoring). It complements the Centre's existing services for international scholars and strengthens the university's internationalization strategy by intensifying the relationship between highly qualified scholars from abroad and the University of Cologne. IFS-Mentoring focuses on international female scholars working at the University of Cologne or any collaborating research institution. It is one of the first mentoring programs in Germany exclusively addressing female scientists from other countries in the English language.

IFS-Mentoring was established to meet the special needs of international female scientists at an advanced stage of their careers (postdocs, assistant professors). It includes one-to-one mentoring, a framework program with seminars and lectures, e.g. career planning, paths to becoming a professor, international cooperation and intercultural team management, work-life balance, and third-party funding in Europe. Regular network meetings and individual coaching sessions are also part of the program.

By supporting women in their scientific careers and helping them develop strategies to manage family and career, the University of Cologne also aims to combat the high attrition rates of women in academic professions. The second cycle of IFS-Mentoring will start in January 2014.

For further information, please contact senior project manager Katrin Pieper or click here.