The data described in this post were collected and analyzed as part of the project „Developing and implementing a D&I strategy for FZJ“

After the Diversity & Inclusion project was given the green light by the Board of Directors in August 2020, the first goal of the firstProject Board meeting in January 2021 was conducting a comprehensive assessment of the status quo at FZJ as it concerns diversity and inclusion.

In order to obtain a detailed picture of the current D&I capabilities of FZJ, various tools were employed.. For example, an employee survey was conducted to obtain quantitative information on employees experiences and perceptions of the research center work environment. Further, semi-structured interviews were collected to better understand under-represented employees experiences at the Center. The main question we wanted to answer through qualitative interviews was, “How do underrepresented and minority employees experience their work life at FZJ?”

But what is the best way to identify interviewees for such a task? As mentioned, members of minority groups and their experiences should be in focus. But how does one find these employees? Clusters such as gender, nationality and age are relatively easy to isolate, but other diversity dimensions such as health, sexual orientation and worldview are not recorded anywhere,so no random selection could be made from existing data. A way to approach this issue was to employ different sampling methodologies and this is exactly what we did. During an information event about the project in December 2020 employees were given the opportunity to schedule an appointment with interviewers (self-selection) Furrther, a . targeted snowball approach was also employed; most interviews resulted from this method. Randomization was also used when possible – that is to say, when official data existed about a specific group (e.g. international guest researchers from non-European Countries).    

Figure 1 shows the identity dimensions and organisational affiliation of the interviewees. In total, the participants included 20 international staff, 17 female staff, 4 LGBTIQ+ staff, 3 Muslim staff, 3 staff with a disability and 13 staff with children. The surveyed employees belong to the age range 23-68 years. 23 of the interviewed persons are assigned to the scientific staff, 4 work in administration, 2 are technical employees, furthermore 1 trainee, 6 employees of the PtJ and 2 employees outside Jülich were interviewed. A total of 24 institutes were involved.

The majority of participants were scientific employees (from doctoral students to directors), as well as employees from administration, trainees, technical employees and employees from outside Jülich. It is important to note that employees take on several roles in FZJ and could therefore talk about different experiences.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the interviews were conducted online; the interview language was either German or English. The interviewees decided whether to agree to a recording of the interview or to written notes as a data backup method. All notes and transcripts were coded using the qualitative analysis software MAXQDA, for which two social scientists were responsible. Following the interviews, all interviewees were given the opportunity to review the notes and analysis to ensure the accuracy of the data collected and the researchers’ interpretations (triangulation).

Although the data obtained is quite useful, it must be noted that the method described has biases. The”sampling methodology” described above (purposive sampling, snowballing and referrals) may have favored individuals who were already active within FZJ or those who had interesting stories to tell, which included stories of integration and success. Few employees volunteered, and when they did, it was almost exclusively in the context of negative experiences.
Nevertheless, all stories provided useful information regarding best- and worst-case scenarios and made it possible to identify some of the current strengths and weaknesses of the research center.

About Eva Maria Kanis

Eva Kanis (sie/ihr) arbeitet als stellvertretende Projektleitung im D&I Projekt des FZJ. Zusammen mit der Projektleiterin Alice Leri bloggt sie über die neuesten Entwicklungen im Projekt und greift aktuelle D&I-Thematiken auf.

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