What is WiRe?

WiRe – The University of Münster’s Fellowship
Programme for Young Female Scientists

WiRe is a fellowship programme for international female postdoctoral researchers at the University of Münster (WWU) in Münster, Germany. Our WiRe fellowship programme pays respect to the challenges of women in research, focusing on female postdocs in the ‘Rush Hour of Life’.

Why the Focus on Female Scientists?

While the number of female students is steadily increasing worldwide, women remain a minority among academic leaders – even more so in the sciences. The underrepresentation of women has far-reaching negative consequences for human capital utilization and innovation potential. The presence of women in key areas of academia is increasingly being recognized as one factor in the gendering of research content, including the shaping of science priorities, research agendas, and methods. Our WiRe project aims to increase the number of women in academia by providing support for women scientists in what is often regarded the most critical phase of the academic career development: the postdoc phase.

Being a Female Postdoc in the Rush Hour of Life:
The Challenges

Establishing oneself in the scientific world, finding a partner for life, making a (long-distance) relationship work, starting a family – researchers between the ages of 30 and 45 – the ‘Rush Hour of Life’ – have to manage all this at the same time. While establishing a scientific career is already difficult enough, it is particularly challenging for female postdocs: Numerous studies show that both men and women continue to be biased against women in academia: The thought that women are less talented than men especially when it comes to STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is still deeply rooted in many minds, at least implicitly. And yet another thing makes the postdoc phase for women even harder: After all, the issue of starting a family and taking care of the child(ren) affects a woman’s career still much more than that of a man.  

How WiRe Fellowships Help to Meet the Challenges

WiRe considers different aspects that are crucial for the compatibility of life and career advancement for women in research especially in the postdoc phase! With mentoring, workshops and networking possibilities and a special family bonus, we want to create a good starting point for our WiRe Fellows. While there already are excellent structures for supporting female scientists at the University and in the city of Münster, we also want to learn more about female scientists’ needs. We thrive to improve our support offers accordingly.  

Why the Blog … or:
Our WiRe Fellows as Inspiration for Future Female Scientists

Here we want to share how our WiRe Fellows master the challenging postdoc phase: Which challenges do they see and which solutions do they choose? To what extent do structures at the WWU and in the city of Münster help? We also want to show with what passion and persistence our fellows pursue their exciting research projects. We are deeply impressed by the individual paths they take to master them and all other of life’s challenges. We are sure that our WiRe Fellows will inspire future generations of young female scientists.

Last but not least: Who makes all of this possible:

WiRe started in 2018 as a project collaboratively funded by the DFG (German Research Foundation, “Research in Germany” campaign), the Universitiy of Münster’s Equal Opportunity Office and the University of Münster Foundation. Since 2019, WiRe is funded by the University of Münster.

The programme has been designed and is managed by the Welcome Centre (International Office) of the University of Münster.