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Final Report Summary - IPODI (International Post-Doc Initiative of the Technische Universität Berlin (IPODI))

Between 2013 and 2018 the International Post-Doc Initiative (IPODI) of the Technische Universitaet Berlin (TU Berlin) awarded 21 (plus 5) two-year fellowships to international female researchers in three (plus one) internationally open calls for application. IPODI addresses outstanding and experienced female researchers regardless of their nationality or age and is open to applications from all fields of research represented in the seven faculties of TU Berlin. IPODI aims to promote the career development of female researchers in ERA and to increase the number of women in leadership positions and higher qualification levels in research, in particular in those research areas in which they are underrepresented. Due to the success of the programme, TU Berlin decided to fund two additional fellowships in the second call for applications and three additional calls for applications for three to four fellowships per call. In addition, the university is discussing different scenarios to continue the programme beyond its current end in 2022.
IPODI fellows receive a two-year employment contract with salaries equal to those of the Marie Curie Programme for experienced researchers, including social security and health insurance as well as pension coverage, a yearly travel allowance, and a contribution to research costs of EUR 4,800 per fellowship. A senior researcher of TU Berlin, the IPODI mentor, supports each fellow in her career development and the IPODI office organizes tailor-made trainings for the fellows, including workshops in transferable skills, information events as well as networking and social events. All IPODI fellows can participate in all of TU Berlin’s continuing education courses and services, including ProFiL, a highly successful training programme for female researchers aiming at a full professorship.
In order to be eligible applicants must have at least two and not more than ten (in exceptional cases up to thirteen) years of research experience after obtaining their doctoral degree. They must comply with the Mobility Rule and the research proposal has to be supported by a cooperating professor of TU Berlin. Researchers returning from periods of international mobility (researching outside Germany), intersectoral mobility (working in the private sector) or non-academic mobility (e.g. after parental leave) are especially encouraged to apply.
The IPODI calls for application are announced internationally and are disseminated through all available instruments (IPODI website, job portals and web-based resources, including EURAXESS, scientific networks, websites, newsletters, mailing lists, the TU Berlin website, flyers and posters). All applications for IPODI are submitted electronically in the IPODI online portal ( and applicants are able to monitor the status of their application in the online portal during each stage of the selection process.
The IPODI selection process is organized as follows: After the eligibility check, which is conducted by the IPODI office, each application is evaluated by two independent international expert reviewers from the applicant’s field of research; the reviews are submitted electronically in the IPODI online portal. On the basis of the results of the external peer review, the IPODI selection committee decides who will be invited for an interview. Approximately 3 weeks later, the interviews with the pre-selected applicants are conducted by the selection committee. After the interviews, the selection committee awards a grade to each applicant, which is then added to the grade from the peer review. Finally, a ranking list of applications is compiled and the highest-ranking candidates receive a fellowship offer. The average success rate of all calls was 13.1% with an average mark of all applications of 4.27 of 5 possible points indicating the very high quality of the incoming applications and thus the general acceptance of the programme. The composition of the 21 (plus 5) fellows who came from 13 different countries and represented 16 different scientific disciplines also shows that IPODI succeeded in making the call for application internationally visible and in reaching out to different scientific communities.
The outreach activities during the call were accompanied by further dissemination activities throughout the duration of the programme. The IPODI programme and its fellows are promoted continuously in TU Berlin’s internal publications which are listed on the IPODI website. The programme has also been invited to contribute project descriptions to a number of external publications, including a publication by the German Rector’s Conference with good practice examples for internationalization at German universities (HRK (ed.): Auf international Erfolge aufbauen. Beispiele guter Internationalisierungspraxis an deutschen Hochschulen. Bonn, 2014). Each IPODI fellow and each IPODI alumna has an individual profile page on the IPODI website. The most important dissemination and communication activities of the IPODI fellows are communicated on the IPODI front page.
Overall, IPODI was successful in advancing women’s scientific careers in ERA. The internal final evaluation in June 2018 showed that IPODI fellows were more likely to remain in academia and to improve their academic standing (from R2 to R3 or R4 level) than scientists who applied to IPODI but did not receive funding. Furthermore, all IPODI alumnae could continue their academic career after the fellowship. As of July 2018, four of seven alumnae from call 1 have received full professorship at a European university. Two alumnae received large third-party funding to continue their research at TU Berlin. One alumna received a position as a junior research group leader at a well-known German research institution. Through the extensive dissemination efforts of IPODI office and IPODI fellows, the visibility of female researchers as well as the awareness of existing inequalities within academia have increased thus also leading to an improved acceptance of gender equality programmes such as IPODI. IPODI’s positive evaluation of care-related breaks as well as the support extended to IPODI fellows who had a child during their fellowship contributed to establishing diverse scientific career paths that reconcile the demands of research with those of family life. All of this contributes to advancing gender equality throughout ERA.
IPODI is very well accepted within the scientific community and within the university itself, which is shown by the success rates and by the large number of enquires and registrations in the IPODI online portal during the call openings. More than every third TU full professor has supported at least one application as a mentor in at least one of the calls for application. Furthermore, both external and internal evaluation schemes showed that IPODI fellows were very satisfied with the overall programme and concluded that the fellowship had a beneficial effect on their careers. One of the main reasons given by fellows was that the absence of administrative and teaching responsibilities allowed concentrating on publications and research as well as conference participation thereby advancing their scientific profile. The fellows appreciated in particular the transparent selection process and the support by the IPODI staff. Furthermore, it was emphasized that IPODI lived up to the promise of regarding care-related breaks in the career path not as an obstacle but as a positive add-on.
An external evaluation of the programme in 2016 confirms that the “objectives of the initiative have been achieved to a very high degree”, stating that the “support from the IPODI office and the faculties is large, and the scientific output of the fellows is enormous. In particular, the supervision is appreciated, as are the good integration in the networks of TU Berlin and time flexibility. The programme contributed considerably to the career advancement of the fellows. Their career opportunities in the private and in the academic sector have increased. The accompanying measures contribute considerably to profile enhancement, which increases the leadership qualities of the fellows.”
Host Organisation/Contact:
Technische Universität Berlin
IPODI Office
Dr. Stefanie Schäfer
Straße des 17. Juni 135
D-10623 Berlin
Phone: +49-30-314 79842

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