The Mary Somerville Lectureship Program has been offered at universities of applied sciences (HAW) in Rhineland-Palatinate since the 1998/1999 winter semester to pave the way for qualified female scientists to become professors at a university of applied sciences through early teaching experience and networking. Today, Dr. Denis Alt, State Secretary in the Ministry of Science and Health, presented the approvals at Mainz University of Applied Sciences for four new applications and two follow-up applications that the university had submitted to implement the teaching assistantship program. In total, 18 female scientists in Rhineland-Palatinate will be supported by the Mary Somerville program on their way to a professorship at a university of applied sciences in the 2023 summer semester. The total funding provided by the state amounts to up to 50,000 Euro per semester.
“I am very pleased that the Mary Somerville Lectureship Program has been so well received by the universities in Rhineland-Palatinate. This year alone, we have received 19 applications for the program. This shows the acceptance and importance of the project. We still have a great need for qualified women at universities of applied sciences, and this is especially true on the professorship level. It is unacceptable that the proportion of women at universities continues to decline the higher up the academic career ladder they go. The goal must be parity between men and women in top positions in science and research,” said State Secretary Denis Alt.
“On the path to gender parity, we are very pleased about the approval of no less than six applications for the lectureship program, resulting in more women interested in becoming professors at our University of Applied Sciences. A fundamental cultural transformation is necessary to promote equal opportunities in academia. Mainz University of Applied Sciences is ready to expand its support structures to decisively advance this cultural change,” says Prof. Dr. Susanne Weissman, President of Mainz University of Applied Sciences.
Over the past few years, the proportion of women at all qualification and career levels has steadily increased, but it continues to fall with each step on the career ladder after graduation. According to the Joint Science Conference (GWK) study Equal Opportunities in Science and Research, there has been limited growth in professorships in particular – with the proportion of women increasing by an average of 0.64 percentage points annually over the past 10 years (2011-2020). In addition, the higher the pay grade, the lower the percentage of women.
The Mary Somerville Lectureship Program enables qualified women with graduate degrees who do not yet have teaching experience to gain educational and lecturing experience as lecturers and to make contacts at universities. This increases their chances of appointment when they ultimately apply for an advertised professorship. Of the 19 applications submitted for the Mary Somerville Lectureship Program for the 2023 summer semester, 18 applications were approved.