Heinrich Heine University (HHU) Düsseldorf welcomes the European Commission’s decision to increase the focus of the Horizon Europe research and innovation funding programme on universities’ commitment to gender equality. HHU strongly believes that the equality and gender criteria established by the European Commission are fundamental principles, strategies and measures for the equality work at a university. As such, gender equality is always considered and actively lived at HHU as a cross-sectional task that is integrated into all work areas at the university. HHU’s gender equality expertise gathered during more than 30 years of cooperative work is outlined below.
Gender Equality Framework Plan
Pursuant to Sections 5, 5a, 6 and 6a of the Equal Opportunities Act of North Rhine-Westphalia (LGG), universities in North Rhine-Westphalia are obliged to draw up a Gender Equality Framework Plan for the university as a whole as well as Gender Equality Plans for the individual faculties and central institutions. The Gender Equality Framework Plan essentially provides guidance for personnel planning that takes equality aspects into account, in particular during personnel development within the department. The heads of the department, personnel department and employees with supervisory or management duties have a special obligation to implement and review the Gender Equality Framework Plan.
HHU regularly publishes its Gender Equality Framework Plan and interim reports on the Gender Equality Framework Plan in its official bulletins.
Equal opportunities team at HHU
HHU’s equal opportunities team comprises 11 employees. This includes the Central Equal Opportunities Commissioner, who advises and assists university management in enforcement of the legal requirements. In recent years, HHU has ensured that nine of these 11 positions were made permanent to guarantee the continuity of gender equality measures currently in place and planning security for innovative new approaches in future gender equality work. A generous annual budget has been allocated to help achieve the aforementioned goals.
A total of 24 decentralised equal opportunities officers have been appointed to support the equal opportunities work on the faculty level, female employees working in the university’s technical departments and administration as well as female students.
The Department of Financial Planning and Control (D 5.3) provides statistical data on the development of the gender balance at various qualification levels as well as among the staff. This data is then published in the university management’s accountability reports, in the Gender Equality Framework Plan and in the corresponding interim reports as well as in the accountability reports of the Central Equal Opportunities Commissioner. University management reviews the gender quotas, which are the most important indicator of the development of the gender balance among professors, during its annual monitoring.
Current gender quotas at HHU
Department of Financial Planning and Control (intranet only)
accountability reports of the Central Equal Opportunities Commissioner
Gender Equality Framework Plan
interim reports on the Gender Equality Framework Plan
Awareness-raising courses offered by the Central Equal Opportunities Commissioner
Since 2019, the Central Equal Opportunities Commissioner has offered training on the topic of “Unconscious Bias”. The training focuses on strengthening committees’ competence by raising awareness among the members of committees and especially appointment committees. In addition to the training specifically for women (with and without committee experience) to help them identify role patterns in committees and thereby optimise their own committee work, gender equality training will also be offered to appointment officers and new appointees from 2021.
Measures for employees and students with family responsibilities
HHU’s Family Support Centre is an advice and mediation centre for students and employees of the university and university hospitals wishing to reconcile family life with a career or studies. The Family Support Centre’s services include extensive advisory services along with holiday camps for the children of employees and students three times a year.
In addition to many permanent measures, which were introduced following an audit of HHU’s family-friendliness, the Central Equal Opportunities Commissioner has set up various support services on campus for people with childcare responsibilities. The FamilyFund that supports young female academics was also developed as part of the Professorinnenprogramm III of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, which aims to encourage more women to pursue a career in academia.
Rectorate, University Council and Senate
The Rectorate is the university’s central governing body. It consists of the President, the Chancellor (head of administration) and four Vice-Presidents, each of whom is responsible for a different department. The Rectorate manages all university matters in close collaboration with the faculties and other institutions. The proportion of women within the Rectorate currently lies at 33 percent.
Another central institution at HHU is the University Council. The University Council advises the Rectorate and supervises its activities. Its tasks include participating in the election/selection of members of the Rectorate, approving the annual financial statements and commenting on the statement of accounts. It must also approve important aspects of university life such as the business plan, the university development plan and the drafting of the target/objective agreement. Women and men are represented equally in the University Council, which is currently chaired by a woman.
The Senate is the only central body of the university in which all university members are represented and can discuss and deliberate on diverse aspects and problems concerning the university. The Senate participates in all fundamental structural decisions affecting the university and supports the Rectorate by bringing aspects from the entire university into this process. The Senate’s legally defined tasks include enacting and amending the university’s regulations as well as providing recommendations and statements on the draft version of the University Development Plan and the target agreement, on the evaluation reports, on the business plan and on the principles for allocating posts and funds among the University’s departments, facilities and operating units. The proportion of women within the Senate currently lies at 44.8 percent.
Recruitment processes at HHU
The Department for Personnel Development ensures that gender equality is taken into account during the selection of staff. This is achieved through a high degree of transparency, professionalised guidelines and templates, and standardised work processes (information materials can only be accessed via the intranet).
HHU has issued appointment regulations based on Section 38 (4) in conjunction with Section 2 (4) of the Higher Education Act of North Rhine-Westphalia (Hochschulgesetz, HG). The regulations govern the appointment procedure with the aim of making all of the steps transparent and enabling a swift and efficient procedure. It is the declared aim of HHU to treat applicants with the utmost respect at all stages of the procedure, to take their interests into account appropriately and to comply with the principles of equality.
The appointment guidelines serve as an aid and specification of various aspects of the HHU appointment regulations. The guide is always made available to all members of an appointment committee. It aids in the efficient organisation of the selection procedure. A checklist outlining the essential points detailed in the guide (including all relevant gender equality aspects) in the appendix facilitates usage. The checklist must be completed in full and attached to the appointment protocol.
Professorships of the Women’s and Gender Studies Research Network
A professorship with a gender denomination of the Women’s and Gender Studies Research Network has been established at HHU, along with an associated professorship within the Department of Modern Japanese Studies.
In general, the faculties at HHU follow the guiding principle of freedom of research and teaching in the application of gender aspects as well as the denomination of vacant professorships.
Safety on campus
HHU is committed to preventing sexual discrimination, harassment and violence, and to establishing effective procedures for intervention. To protect all employees and students who have been or are affected by sexualised acts, HHU has not only published guidelines for responding to sexualised discrimination and violence, but also provides various contact points for lodging complaints and seeking advice.