Constanze Bonifer bonifer at
Tue Oct 14 14:45:03 EST 1997

The situation Sylvia is referring to is exactly the one that drove me out of the country. I went through all the hardships of a scientific career in Germany, 
did my Habilitation, and then had to leave. 
I have a position in England now (I am still using my old email account though)
and I am happy and bitter about it.
Happy, because here I can pursue a scientific career without having some 
greedy professor in the back, bitter because..why did I have to suffer 
from the German system, when I have to leave the country anyway?

Regarding Sylvias case: I no one other couple who has the very same problem. 
They work together in the same field, publish together, he has a permanent position, she is working in his lab as a postdoc. The major funding body (DFG) does 
not fund couples, so they have to bend the rules all the time. She can be 
employed only for five years in the same lab (German regulations again) and 
then she has to go. They have a small child. She is about 3times as bright as her husband.
So what happens? She's out, he's in.
The worst about the whole thing is: NOBODY CARES.

Well, we all go to England , the States, rest of Europe and let the German 
males rest in peace. Amen.

who has written about this subject several times before

has In Sylvia's case: 
Sylvia Becker (becker at wrote:
: On 10 Oct 1997 15:05:23 GMT, Karen Allendoerfer <ravena at> wrote:
:  : In article <61kq76$2jc at>,
:  : Sabine Dippel wrote:
:  : >
:  : >To those who had pretty bad experiences a while ago: things are getting slightly
:  : >better. Meaning that there now are people (sort of ombudsman - is there a word
:  : >like ombudswoman?) that officially are supposed to deal with this sort of thing
:  : >if it occurs. Normally, every university department is supposed to have one. 
:  : >Still, I assume that many women don't dare complain, because there is a big
:  : >likelihood that nothing will happen, except making the woman concerned a 
:  : >"troublemaker" in the eyes of her colleagues and superiors. 
:  : >
:  : This is the sort of thing I was thinking of when I said that it sounded like
:  : German women were faced now with what American women were faced with 20 years
:  : ago.  When I started graduate school, 10 years ago, I heard stories 
:  : about male professors at U.S. institutions that were similar to the horror
:  : stories described here--professors sleeping with students or throwing them
:  : out of the lab for rejecting the professors' advances (and the ombudsman
:  : doing essentially nothing constructive, the professor gets tenure and
:  : the student is labeled a trouble maker).  I would like to hope that these are
:  : isolated incidents at this point.
:  : 
:  : >Coming back to the problem women face in science in general -- that's one of 
:  : >my pet peeves. As Karen mentioned already, yes, an extremely strong cultural 
:  : >bias exists agains day-care. This has even greater consequences than it might
:  : >seem at first sight. 
:  : 
:  : I believe it.  In Germany the store opening hours were also against
:  : working women--there was never a store open in the evening or on weekends--
:  : was it assumed that every household had a full-time stay-at-home
:  : shopper, able to do marketing between 9 and 5 on weekdays?  But that
:  : is changing too, I found when I visited Germany this year.
:  : 
:  : Karen
:  : 

: Hi, 

: so, let's throw another German in the debate.  Yes, I agree with what Sabine
: has said, essentially all of it.  What I want to add is that as a result it
: is not only the employers (men) looking down on a working woman but also the
: women.  I am working in Munich and living in the countryside.  The fact that
: I didn't stay at home when the first child arrived along with the fact 
: that my husband and I have different names has certainly set our family
: apart from the others.  Things are gradually improving - the financial
: situation for most families in Germany is such that the woman will at least
: have to work part time.  However, working if you NEED THE MONEY is accepted.
: Working because you want to PURSUE A CAREER is bloody selfish of a mother!
: At least that's the message one seems to get.  In fact, my own brother
: despises me for what I am doing - his wife, a fully trained medical doctor,
: is a stay at home mum.  Now, I would consider that their choice and nobody
: else's business but they seem to consider my choice their business of rather
: their choice to be the gospel!

: Also, the means taken to help families with the "extended two body problem",
: i.e. deal with child care and try and allow the spouse to find a job in the
: same area are zilch!  It seems to be better in industry but in the
: universities things are dire!  In my particular case, I am expected to work
: somewhere else if I want more funding through the major grant giving body,
: they specifically said that they won't fund me any longer if I stay in
: Munich - despite raving referee reports concerning the scientific aspects of
: my proposals.  My husband has a permanent job at the university in Munich
: and we have two small children.  No way can I move and work somewhere else
: (on a two year job soft money basis).  So far, my boss is pulling me through
: with opening up unexpected sources of money though no proper job but I get 
: the impression that in the end it is regarded as funding my hobby ( with 
: the added bonus that if I succeed in my efforts I will be the first woman 
: at this faculty to get the degree called Habilitation which you need in 
: Germany to become a professor - being the boss of such a person may be one 
: of my boss's incentives in his efforts though this may be unfair).  The 
: longer this goes on the more bitter I get.  Swimming against the stream 
: all the time with very little help is tiring.

:   Are you sure it's only a difference of 10-20 years compared to the US?

: Keep it up!

:     Sylvia

: -- 
: Dr. Sylvia R. Becker                  |  Phone:  +49 89 922094 39
: Universitaetssternwarte Muenchen      |  Fax:    +49 89 922094 27
: Scheinerstr. 1                        |  e-mail: becker at
: D-81679 Muenchen, Germany

Constanze Bonifer <bonifer at>

More information about the Womenbio mailing list