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

In the last post, we described  how qualitative interviews were collected to better identify some of the Center´s strengths and weaknesses regarding D&I. . In addition to the personal experiences of members of marginalized groups, through the project we also focused on assessing FZJ ability to integrate diversity and inclusion perspectives into its main functions. Today, we would like to talk in more detail about the Diversity & Inclusion Audit that was run during the first stage of our project.

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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?”

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About the adventure of living in another country and returning home

As diverse as the countries of this earth are, the people who inhabit them are equally diverse. The saying: ‘Different land, different customs’ sums this up perfectly. Of course, this difference can cause worries, especially if you plan to live in another country for a longer period of time. This was the experience of Dr. Nour Maraytta. The young scientist had the courage to leave her home country of Palestine to move to Germany for three years and complete her doctorate here.

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“The most dangerous of all worldviews is the worldview of people who have not seen the world.” Alexander von Humboldt. Stays abroad help to better understand project partners, their wishes, needs and opinions. To expand your own horizons – both personally and professionally – stays abroad are irreplaceable.

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By Philipp Schaps

How can we incorporate the basic ideas of equity, diversity, and inclusion in our project work and fill them with life? How can we achieve the desired change as efficiently as possible? How can we take aspects of shared leadership into account?

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A very short story of how our diversity, equity, and inclusion journey began

Diversity and inclusion is not a project, it is a long-term commitment…or at least this would be my first reaction if someone told me that they were initiating a project to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion within their organization. There is no on/off switch. Committing to D&I is more like embarking on a life-long journey than a hundred-meter sprint. Still, this does not mean that we have to move forward like Alice, following a white rabbit down a hole with no clear goals or direction. D&I is not a wandering in the hope of getting back home in time for tea. It requires intentionality, planning, and coordination. The temptation to hit the trail as quickly as possible might be strong, especially when we know that a long journey is ahead of us. Yet, it would be a very bad idea to set out on the road without knowing exactly where we are going, with whom, and which intermediate milestones we might need to reach before arriving at our destination. I found that in several cases, the problem is not to agree on abstract D&I statements, but rather on details such as “how do we get there”, “what needs to be changed”, “how” and “by whom”.

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As a diversity and inclusion practitioner, I like talking about why organizations should commit to diversity, equity, and inclusion. I put my full hearth and energies in what I do and those around me probably know how passionate I am about helping research and educational institutions to build a more inclusive and equitable environment for students, employees and society at large. Nevertheless, once, a friend made me notice that I might come across as rather cynical in professional settings. I would call that pragmatism instead…It is true, however, that when I talk about diversity and inclusion (D&I) I tend to focus more on the business case rather than moral arguments. If I do so, nevertheless, it is just because I think they are more effective when I address a wide and composite audience with a variety of opinions and political leanings.

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How stays abroad can motivate pursuit of science

At the beginning of great achievements, scientific innovations or simply an outstanding career, there is often a simple dream. But what happens when your homeland does not offer the best opportunities to fulfill this dream? This is what happened to Dr. Yurii Kutovyi. His dream was to shape the information technology of the future through physics. In his home country Ukraine, the conditions for fulfilling his goals are not the best, and so the young scientist decided with a heavy heart to leave his motherland to pursue his research abroad. His path led him to Jülich, to the Forschungszentru.

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South Korea is a highly innovative country. It is currently one of the world’s leading economies. Development and innovation already have a long history in this Asian state. Whether the production of silk and pottery products or letterpress printing, South Korea was at the forefront of handcraft and high-technology and was far ahead of many other countries. Today, the ambition and will for further development can be seen above all in the scientific and technical achievements.

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Hollywood has a clear answer to the question of what makes good science: It is about the scientific work of smart researchers, who together save the world or mankind at the last moment thanks to a clever idea. Action-packed and full of suspense, the team works under high pressure to develop the saving solution. Loosely based on a German nursery rhyme, science can also deal with seemingly more trivial issues: “Die Wissenschaft hat festgestellt, festgestellt, festgestellt, dass Marmelade Fett enthält, Fett enthält…” (Science has determined, that jam contains fat…). But who is right? Is science only valuable when huge challenges are met with a big bang, or is the solution of everyday tasks also important?

Both are correct! Science and research that addresses both the grand challenges of humankind (without the Hollywood action part, of course) and the small issues of everyday life is valuable. But „good“ science includes many more components.

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