Early in 2003, Fraunhofer stated its support for the application of “gender mainstreaming” principles and equal opportunities standards. In accordance with its decentralised structure, consisting of 57 separate institutes, Equal Opportunity officers (BfCs) have been established at each institute. Having said that, there are many gender equality-oriented activities within the many Fraunhofer institutes. However, even if women’s presence in scientific personnel has increased across all institutes in the last 10 years by 7.2% (reaching 19.3% in 2010), a stagnation has occurred in the last five years, and there was even a slight decrease of women in the most highly-remunerated positions (from 4.3% in 2006 to 3.6% in 2010).

Therefore, an extra effort was deemed necessary. Based on the non-centralised structure, a central strategy is not adequate to change the situation, so a participatory process is applied. A starting point was to recognize that there is no systematic overview and assessment of the activities in the various Fraunhofer institutes and no systematic exchange of good or successful initiatives. Moreover, some institutes are very advanced in gender diversity promotion, while others are still moving their first steps. Therefore, the Action Plan sets out to foster mutual learning among the different institutes. New solutions, developed in the dialogue among several institutes and implemented in many of them at the same time, will be particularly supported. When the structure for exchange and support has been established among Fraunhofer institutes, solutions are intended to be made available to external research institutes.





Internal exchange


Test of the exchange procedure among a regional group of Fraunhofer institutes

-    Development and implementation of a structure for regular exchange of experiences among the regional Commissioners for Equal Opportunities (BfCs) at the local Fraunhofer institutes (Regional Group)

Knowledge production

Production of baseline information and final assessment of results

-    Initial and final surveys on the activities concerning gender equality at the Fraunhofer institutes

Internal exchange

Widening the internal market area of gender diversity concepts and solutions

-    Involvement of the other Fraunhofer institutes in the change process

-    Definition of platforms for actions at the participating institutes

Internal communication and dissemination

Documentation and joint evaluation of old and new measures concerning gender equality at the different institutes, to further develop the concept of institutional gender equality

-    National meetings of participating Fraunhofer institutes

External communication and dissemination

Expand the exchange of concepts for the management of gender diversity beyond the organisational boundaries of Fraunhofer

-    National Conference on “Gender and Diversity Management in Research Organisations”

External exchange

Involve external institutes and actors in the exchange process

-     Exchange of experiences with non-Fraunhofer research institutes

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