• Portrait of Dr. Ursula Fuhrich-Grubert

    Dr. Ursula Fuhrich-Grubert, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Brain City Ambassador Dr. Ursula Fuhrich-Grubert is the central women’s representative at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. She has been campaigning for equality and anti-discrimination since her studies.

She is particularly proud of the Leadership Programme for Female Professors she helped initiate. “An evaluation has already shown that the goal of getting more female professors into management positions at universities and in large research projects as well as in academic self-administration has been achieved extremely well.  For example, one of our vice-presidents and the president of another university went through this program, as have all the Deans of the Humboldt-Universität over the past ten years or all the spokespersons for large research associations at the HU Berlin.” Meanwhile, the program originally anchored at the HU Berlin has been opened up for the Berlin University Alliance. A great success for Ursula Fuhrich-Grubert. “Hopefully, even more female professors will soon take up management positions at Berlin universities and beyond.”

Brain City Berlin is already the nationwide leader in terms of equality. “About a third of the professorships are now occupied by women, we have cracked the 50 percent quota for doctorates, the proportion of women among postdoctorates is between 30 and 50 percent, and among students it is even more than 60 percent. The only exceptions are the purely technical universities and colleges. So we have achieved a lot. When I started working for equality as the decentralised women’s representative at the beginning of the 1990s, there was not a single woman professor in history at the Freie Universität Berlin. Nevertheless, there is still a lot to do, summarises Ursula Fuhrich-Grubert, because the proportion of women professors of around 33 percent in Berlin represents a kind of glass ceiling. “We observe that in many places people have the impression that equality has already been achieved. It is a great challenge to deal with this and to increase the proportion of women further. I consider Tenure-Track professorships to be a very suitable means that we should pursue.”

Ursula Fuhrich-Grubert’s personal message for Berlin is therefore: “According to the catchphrase ‘Berlin City of Women’, I hope that Berlin will also become the city of women leaders in science and beyond. At the same time, we must never forget the women who are not in top positions and sometimes are poorly paid to earn their daily bread and, especially in times of the corona pandemic, have to fear for their jobs. Here we need strong solidarity among all women!”

Berlin is already the front runner in terms of equality among German university locations. About a third of the professorships are held by women, and we have cracked the 50 percent quota for doctorates.

“I am a university politics person and have great interest in supporting and shaping gender equality as a political issue in all areas as a lobbyist, both at my university and throughout Berlin,” explains Brain City Ambassador Dr Ursula Fuhrich-Grubert. “For me it is important that equality gets into the mainstream as quickly as possible, so that it is understood and taken into account as a matter of course.”

For Ursula Fuhrich-Grubert, her interest was a calling. Already during her history degree studies in Berlin, she volunteered on the emergency and advice hotline for women who had been raped. After completing her doctorate, she finally became a research assistant at the Freie Universität Berlin – where at the same time she was also elected as the decentralised women’s representative. Ursula Fuhrich-Grubert has been the central women’s representative at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU Berlin) since 2009. “I was inspired by the strong women in my family, especially my mother and grandmother, who were both, as we would say today, ‘managers’ in a family business, in a company, which was very unusual for their time. These two were great role models and at the same time an incentive for me.”

As the women’s representative at the HU Berlin, Ursula Fuhrich-Grubert has several central tasks: “On the one hand, I am more or less a controlling authority in the context of equality and equal opportunities and advise the university management on these issues as well as the committees and institutions at the Humboldt-Universität. On the other hand, I also have the right to speak and submit proposals in all central committees of the HU Berlin and, among other things, manage university policy there in the sense of equality.” In addition, the Brain City ambassador is the head of four organisational units at the university: the women's office, the family office, the office of the Berlin equal opportunities program and the diversity department with the office for diversity-appropriate communication. Public relations is an important focus of her work. She also advises on cases of sexualised discrimination and violence and is committed to anchor anti-discrimination in universities. And last but not least: “For almost ten years I have been one of the two spokespersons for the State conference of women’s and gender equality officers at Berlin universities.” In short, Ursula Fuhrich-Grubert is a dedicated and very busy woman.

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