• Brain City Ambassador Nina Lawrenz, ASH Berlin

    Nina Lawrenz, Alice Salomon University of Applied Sciences Berlin

As Women’s and Equal Opportunities Officer at the Alice Salomon University of Applied Sciences (ASH Berlin), Brain City Ambassador Nina Lawrenz is committed to designing gender-equitable and diversity-sensitive structures and creating opportunities for all member groups at the university – from students to professors.

“We want to strengthen the diversity of gender identities and the interests of women as well as trans, intersex and nonbinary people (TIN) at the university,” says Nina Lawrenz. “Many women and TIN people study and work at the ASH Berlin. Including many with experiences of racism, migration or flight and with care responsibilities. Others are the first in their families to study or are discriminated against and harassed because of their age or appearance. Promoting women is therefore always a diversity policy.”

Nina Lawrenz has been responsible for women’s and gender equality issues at the ASH Berlin, Germany’s largest SAGE university, since 2022. SAGE in German stands for the areas of social work, health and childhood education. “Traditionally, SAGE professions were seen as typical ‘women’s jobs’. This stereotyping was and is associated with lower wages,” explains the Brain City Ambassador. The ASH Berlin is committed to promoting academisation in these areas. “Academisation increases the value of professions; they receive better recognition. On average, academically trained specialists achieve higher positions and incomes. This also reduces the gender pay gap.”

The amendment to the Berlin Higher Education Act (BerlHG) in September 2021 strengthened anti-discrimination and diversity structures at the location. Tailwind for equality work in Brain City Berlin. Nina Lawrenz focuses on team structures: “It is important to me that we don’t allow ourselves to be divided, but that we work together for equal opportunities and anti-discrimination,” she says and immediately explains this with an example: “At our university, the topics of anti-discrimination, anti-racism, diversity, equality, inclusion and the compatibility of family and career are grouped together in the work area ‘Intersectional Practice and Transformation’ (InPuT). As a team, we implement the university’s mission statement, identify challenges and hurdles and make the ASH Berlin more equal for everyone.” Two highly topical issues that Nina Lawrenz is currently working on as part of the team are protection against sexualised discrimination and violence as well as anti-feminism. “I see this as an overall task for the university. Two colleagues from our department are developing a protection concept for this.”

Nina Lawrenz is also closely networked beyond the ASH Berlin, as women’s and equal opportunity officers are connected through the State Conference of Women’s and Equal Opportunity Officers at Berlin Universities (LakoF). Throughout Germany, there is the equivalent of the Federal Conference of Women’s and Equal Opportunities Officers at Universities (bukof). “In these networks, a cross-university exchange takes place on central fields of action of our work - and a joint strategy development on state and nationwide equality and anti-discrimination goals,” says Nina Lawrenz. “In Berlin, we also work closely with the Association of Women’s and Gender Research Institutes at Berlin Universities (afg Berlin).”

Berlin gives us access to innovative researchers who inspire our work.

Nina Lawrenz found her job naturally when she moved to the capital. “I initially studied Latin American Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin, specialising in gender relations. Feminists and gender researchers from the Global South have taught me a de-colonial, intersectional perspective that views gender as a category in the sense of multidimensional, interwoven discrimination relationships.” Her research at the FU Berlin focused on gender equality and diversity as well as sexualised harassment, discrimination and violence at Latin American universities. “Gender equality stakeholders and gender researchers often work hand in hand in Latin America.”

Before her current position at the ASH Berlin, Nina Lawrenz was also the decentralised women’s representative at the Institute for Latin American Studies at the FU Berlin for several years. Here she gained valuable experience that flows into her current work – as well as the versatility and diversity of the science location. “Berlin gives us access to innovative researchers who inspire our work and with whom we are happy to cooperate at events and as advisors on gender equality issues,” says Nina Lawrenz.

The Brain City Ambassador advises young scientists who would like to start their career in Berlin’s scientific community to attend events at the universities and seek targeted dialogue while they are still working on their doctorate. Due to the increasing academisation of social and, above all, health and nursing professions – and with the upcoming right to award doctorates at universities of applied sciences (HAW) – many new academic positions and professorships will have to be filled at the SAGE universities in the coming years. “There are many top academics at the ASH Berlin who want to inspire and support young researchers with their research.” Academics with experience in the field who develop solutions for current social challenges are more in demand than ever, says Nina Lawrenz, adding “The women’s and equal opportunities officers are always good contacts here. They can also advise on the specifics of the university!” (vdo)

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