In Germany, there are still solid structural, financial, legal, cultural and mental obstacles standing in the way of an equal-opportunity scientific practice. The causes for this problem are manifold. Among them is a continued traditionally-oriented culture of work and academia, a lack of diversity and tolerance, a low level of internationality, too much influence by competition-distorting networks, as well as a string of general, non-academia-specific factors in social systems and financial politics.
The substandard culture of gender equality in Germany also leads to a lack of attractiveness and performance compared to foreign scientific practices. An international comparison shows that a distinctly higher level of equal opportunities is possible.
Despite a high and enduring popularity of the equal-opportunities debate, the German science policy has managed very little progress in this area, as compared to others. In the summer of 2008, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) (German Research Foundation) agreed on guidelines concerning "Research-oriented Equal Opportunity Standards". Fortunately, after the publication of the guidelines, the engagement of various academic organisations with the topic intensified. This intensification of efforts, however, does not always appear to be connected to success monitoring.
The research group Égalité dealt with the problem of gender inequality extensively. As a starting point for the consideration, it examined the following two central aspects:
- Identification of the status quo of gender equality in Germany – what has been accomplished, where are the deficits, especially compared to other countries?
- What instruments for gender equality are currently in use, and which of them do (do not) work?
- Where are the desiderata (differentiated by employers, legislators; employment law, family law, prohibition of discrimination etc., fiscal law)?
- What about the equal opportunities of parents and non-parents?
Based on these aspects the RG Égalité developed a questionnaire as a basis for a survey of equal opportunity standards in academia.