Women’s network (Fraunhofer IAO)

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Description of Issues and Targets
In everyday-business, there is often no time to deal with questions regarding equal opportunities. In areas where only a few women are represented there is a lack of female contact persons for them and occasions to cope with effects that occur if one gender is outnumbered. Also in areas with a higher share of female employees networking among women can be helpful if they only have a little opportunity for networking due to part-time jobs or other factors.

Description of Offer/ Action
Summoning a network meeting brings those women who are interested in the topic together. Besides the transfer of information about equal opportunities and the duties of Equal Opportunity Officers (EOO) the meeting gives the opportunity to reduce the inhibition threshold for getting in touch with other women.

Implementation Approach
The meeting takes place at irregular intervals of about three to six months. However, a regular meeting might probably be an advantage. The meeting is announced by circulars to all employees. Every now and then there can be a lack of understanding by individual persons but it shall be transparent that the meeting is still taking place. Any possibly expressed lack of understanding of male or female co-workers regarding questions like »is this really necessary and might there be a favoritism of women« can be used as an occasion to speak about the positive outcome that »actions like this« are expected to have and their necessity. Via outlook appointment, all female employees are invited. Besides the transfer of current information, there is also space for discussion. A (short) round of introduction as well as talking about topics of subgroups (scientists, administrative personnel, EU-project staff, mums, single parents) helps including those how feel belonging to those groups and also for better understanding among those who aren´t and thus all together helps with networking. In the recent meeting, there was a discussion on the topic »I’m a specialist in …« and different introductions of books.

Results and Modes of Action
The numbers of participants of the first meetings varied from about 5 to 15 women. Further meetings will follow. As due to project schedules or travels participation often is impossible the presentation´s minute is posted on the intranet. Appointments should be fixed well in advance.

This Offer is Part of the Category
Gender-sensitive organization culture
Reconciliation of work and private life

Conductive Conditions
Comprehension among the employees that networking of women is worthy of promotion and harmonious relations between the management of the institute, the EOO, and the works council.