Studies have shown that many female scientists decide to leave the academic field after their PhD. While around 50% of the doctoral researchers in biology are female, the women's quota among female professors within biologists is only around 24% (Source: Equal Opportunities Monitoring 2018, DFG). The reasons for this are diverse. Balancing family and career (e.g. having/raising children, lack of child care support) is a barrier women encounter much more frequently than men. Also, the lack of female role models provides little encouragement to undertake a male dominated and competitive scientific career path.

The CEPLAS Equal Opportunity and Diversity Program aims to increase the proportion of women in leading positions. To that end, CEPLAS focuses specifically on promoting the careers of female scientists during the PhD, postdoctoral and group leader phases. 

Offers for female scientists are divided into:


Gender inclusion funding for spokespersons

CEPLAS introduced a new financial measure to encourage candidacy of CEPLAS female PIs for the role of speaker with the aim to increase female representation at leadership level. An extra budget of 80.000 €/year will be allocated to female faculty after candidacy and successful election as cluster speaker.

From the backdrop of female underrepresentation at professorial level, female PIs receive more requests for participation in committees or invitations for guest speakers in events when compared to their male colleagues. In addition to workload related to academic-self administration, taking up a spokesperson position within CEPLAS will increase time constraints for research significantly. The funding for spokespersons is meant to contribute at compensating  restricted time budged due to additional speaker duties and can be used for example for hiring administrative or research support staff in the own institute.

This new initiative follows the example set by the DFG, who  recently introduced a gender inclusion funding for spokespersons in coordinated programmes (Research Units, Research Training Groups, Priority Programmes and Collaborative Research Units). Networks whose spokesperson/coordinator belongs to an underrepresented gender at the management level in their specific field (currently mostly women)  can apply for additional €80,000 per funding year.


CEPLAS Women in Plant Sciences Day

CEPLAS organizes each year a career event with special offers for our female scientists. Past workshops for example focused on “Life-Work-Integration” or “Authentic Networking”. Furthermore, female scientists give insights and share their experience of reconciliation between work and private life. 

  • CEPLAS Women in Plant Sciences Day 2022
    Workshop: How to own the room and ways to overcome stage fright 
  • CEPLAS Women in Plant Sciences Day 2021
    Workshops: How to write a grant proposal / Stand up, speak out and stay in the memory: Presentation skills for science professionals / Career development planing/strategies for young female researchers
  • CEPLAS Women in Plant Sciences Day 2020
    Speakers: Dr. Beate Scholz, Dr. Franziska Turck, Prof. Dr. Eva Nowack, Workshop: Career development planing/strategies for young female researchers
  • CEPLAS Women in Plant Sciences Day 2018
    Workshops: Women & Man on the Job: For Women in Business or Science, How to Become a Strategic Thinker, Resilience for Scientists
  • CEPLAS Women in Plant Sciences Day 2017
    Workshops: Branding for Female CHAMPS, Negotiation for Women - Between Empathy and Assertiveness, Quick on Your Feet! Spontaneous Speaking Practice for Women Scientists
  • CEPLAS Women in Plant Sciences Day 2016 
    Workshops: (In)Compatibility of Work and Personal Life?, Mind full or Mindful?, Power Games of Men and Women in Science, Authentic Networking for Women Scientists
  • CEPLAS Women’s Career Day 2015
    Speakers: Dr. Pim Lindhout, Dr. Gesa Behnken, Dr. Aurelie Huser, Prof. Dr. Paula Elomaa
  • CEPLAS Women’s Career Day 2014
    Speakers: Dr. Milena Ouzunova, Prof. Dr. Maria von Korff Schmising, Dr. Lyudmyla Malysheva-Otto, Dr. Susanne Brink
  • CEPLAS Women’s Career Day 2013
    Prof. Dr. Mechthild Tegeder, Dr. Heike Bock, Dr. Carola Schade, Dr. Antje Rohde

Mentoring and Coaching


Female CEPLAS scientists have access to the excellent Mentoring Programmes provided by the University of Cologne and the University of Düsseldorf. Participation costs will be financed by CEPLAS.

More information about mentoring programs:



The academic career path has many hurdles and challenges, such as the acquisition of own funding, the set up of an own research group or the establishment within the scientific field. These challenges must be combined with life planning and related responsibilities.

We want to support female scientists in this challenging phase and therefore provide funding for the participation in a professional one-on-one coaching.

Please contact the CEPLAS Equal Opportunity and Diversity Office, if you are interested in mentoring or coaching.

Gender-specific training courses

The universities of Düsseldorf and Cologne provide a comprehensive course program, which is specifically designed to meet the needs of female scientists. Course offers are compiled annually based on a demand analysis. Participation fees will be covered by CEPLAS.

Current course programme:

If you would like to register for a course, please contact first the CEPLAS Equal Opportunity and Diversity Office.

Internal network: Female PIs/CIs @ CEPLAS

The network Female PIs/CIs @ CEPLAS brings together CEPLAS senior and mid-career female researchers and offers the possibility to connect with each other, share experiences but also opportunities and resources.

The ideas developed within the regular meetings are transformed into measures and events for promoting female researchers and the science they do in collaboration with the CEPLAS office for equal opportunity and diversity.

The network is open to women of all backgrounds and this includes people who identify as trans*women or non-binary.

Equal Opportunity and Diversity Office

Claudia Balan

+49 211 81 15931

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Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf