Equal opportunities at AWI

The Alfred Wegener Institute is committed to providing equal treatment and opportunities to all its employees as well as to job applicants.

Equal treatment of all our staff members as well as job candidates is required by German law: The General Act on Equal Treatment (“Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz”) sets clear standards and demands from AWI  as an employer to prevent

  • direct or indirect discrimination and harassment on the grounds of
    • race or ethnic origin,
    • gender,
    • religion or belief,
    • disability,
    • age or
    • sexual orientation
  • and sexual harassment.

Employees or applicants who feel that their rights under the General Act on Equal Treatment have been violated may approach the AWI Board of Appeal. For more information have a look <link en work-study awi-as-an-employer information-on-employment board-of-appeal-under-the-general-equal-treatment-act.html>here.

Beyond the legal duty of preventing discrimination and harassment, we are working hard on providing actual equal opportunities to all our staff members. It is our belief that the provision of equal opportunities is both valuable in itself and as a means to excel in our core business – performing outstanding research. The success of a research institute depends on its people. Attracting the best and most suitable scientists, engineers, technicians and managers to AWI and giving them the best possible environment to thrive during their time at our institute is essential for us. And for that to happen, personnel selection and personnel development should focus on knowledge, expertise and skills, without regard to gender, ethnicity, age and so on.

We know that as simple as it sounds, the reality is complex and needs steady commitment. In the end, the provision of equal opportunities and equal treatment should not only be incorporated in regulations, but should be an integral part of our organisational culture.

AWI has a variety of units promoting all aspects of equal opportunities (see contact data on the right side or linked):

  • Our directorate’s commitment is the basis and of utmost importance.
  • Our human resources department implements the directorate’s equal opportunities strategy and translates it into operational processes and structures.
  • Furthermore, we have dedicated staff representatives adding their perspective and foci. The womens’ representatives, the representative body for disabled employees and the staff council are each elected every four years by staff members pursuant to the respective laws. These representatives help to make sure that there is no bias or discrimination in personnel related proceedings (selection, promotion etc.). They also raise awareness of equal opportunities issues in general and draw attention to issues of special importance to employees. In addition, staff representatives are also constantly in touch with colleagues from the other Helmholtz Research Centres, forming special interest and special issue committees like the "Working Group Women in Research Centres".
  • Last but not least, we offer supportive units addressing the special needs of staff from abroad (International Office) and of employees with family members requiring special care (Family Office).

Gender equality has been a focus of discussion and action at AWI for many years, with a number of targets, quotas and measures being developed and implemented.  In particular, our “Agreement on targets for the promotion of equal opportunities” establishes some of these aims and this document is reviewed every four years as an ongoing process. In 2017, this work was reinforced by an externally moderated discussion that focussed on current end emerging issues and contributed fresh ideas for the further development of our gender strategy.


Human Resources Department

Katharina Friederich


Womens' Representatives


from left to right Dr. Gerit Birnbaum, Dr. Inka Bartsch & Tanja Glawatty

Representative body for disabled employees

Anette Tillmann

Staff council