Equal Opportunities

The Centre for East European and International Studies (ZOiS) is firmly committed to ensuring the equality of all its staff in all areas of work and at all career levels, and actively promotes equal opportunities.

In order to further embed gender equality at an institutional level, ZOiS produced a Gender Equality Plan in January 2022, which is accompanied by a programme of measures for its implementation.

The legal framework is Germany’s General Act on Equal Treatment (Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz – AGG). The Horizon Europe Guidance on Gender Equality Plans and the German Research Foundation’s (DFG) Research-Oriented Equity and Diversity Standards provide an additional frame of reference for ZOiS.

ZOiS considers that providing a trustful, respectful and tolerant organisational culture for its staff is of fundamental importance. This aspiration precludes discrimination, bullying, stalking, sexual harassment and violence. As one of the measures identified in the Gender Equality Plan, ZOiS therefore appoints a trusted person to provide advice for its employees on matters relating to gender-based discrimination and violence. This advice is a low-threshold offer complementing the services provided by the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency.

The Gender Equality Plan and Measures for its Implementation 2022–2026

1. Preamble

The Centre for East European and International Studies (ZOiS) engages in social science basic research on Eastern Europe.

Since its establishment as an independent, international, publicly funded research institute in October 2016, ZOiS has been committed to ensuring that its actions and decision-making are fully aligned with, and guided by, gender equality principles.

In order to further improve gender equality at institutional level, ZOiS produced a Gender Equality Plan with an accompanying programme of measures in 2021. The Gender Equality Plan is based on a review and assessment of the gender equality measures already in place.

ZOiS acts in accordance with the General Act on Equal Treatment (AGG), whose purpose is to prevent or to stop discrimination on the grounds of gender, race or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.

In addition, ZOiS is guided by the DFG’s Research-Oriented Standards on Gender Equality adopted by the German Research Foundation. 

The aim is to ensure a gender balance and equal participation by women and men in ZOiS’s organisational structures.

All ZOiS staff members recognise and accept the principles of gender equality.

Simultaneously, it is incumbent on all persons with management and human resource responsibilities to safeguard gender equality as a cross-cutting task. Equal opportunities must be considered in all areas of work.

The Institute Management supports and monitors the measures adopted under the Gender Equality Plan and is the first point of contact for the Institute’s staff.

When performing their leadership roles, whether human resource- or research-related, all management staff at ZOiS have a responsibility to promote the implementation of equal opportunities for women and men on a sustainable basis and work towards the elimination of existing disadvantages for all genders.

The Head of Finance and Human Resources ensures the implementation, within the scope of their responsibilities, of the identified measures relating to staff recruitment and career progression.

The Heads of the Research Clusters are responsible for safeguarding equal opportunities in academic career planning. In this context, particular emphasis is placed on early career support. They also ensure that the gender dimension is addressed and reflected in research and is given sufficient consideration in the development of new research projects.

The Communications Director ensures that gender-fair language is used in all ZOiS publications, and organises annual training to raise awareness of gender equality issues among all staff members at ZOiS.

The Institute Management is obliged, pursuant to Section 12 AGG, to protect all staff members at ZOiS from sexual abuse. Sexual harassment is defined as all forms of unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which degrades the person affected. In light of this, ZOiS nominates a trusted person who may be contacted by staff members affected by this issue.

2. Review

The review was conducted by the specified date – 31.12.2023 – on the basis of filled posts. 
  Number of staff Number of women Percentage (%) of women
Institute Management 2 1 50
Departmental Heads [including Heads of Research Clusters, Administration, Communications, IT]




Research Staff      
Researchers 13 10 76,9
Doctoral Students 6 4 66,6
Guest Researchers  11 9 81,8
Editors of Zentralasien-Analysen 1 0 0
Research Support Staff      
Administration 3 2 66,6
Research Communication 5 4 80
IT 1 1 100
Research Management 4 4 100
Trainees 2 2 100
Research and Student Assistants 11 3 27,2
Total 67 45 67,2


  • ‘Number of staff’ means the actual number of employees in a department, not the number of full-time equivalents.
  • The statistics for researchers include internally and externally funded positions. 

ZOiS has a high percentage of women (total: 67.2 %) in its workforce, with an above-average proportion of female employees in all departments. There is gender parity in the Institute Management team.  

3. Action Areas and Measures

ZOiS has identified five areas of action for the implementation of its gender equality measures. The implementation of the measures is a joint task for the Institute Management and the various departmental heads.

Action areas:

1.    Gender balance in leadership and decision-making
2.    Gender equality in recruitment 
3.    Work/life balance
4.    Integration of the gender dimension into research
5.    Measures against gender-based discrimination and violence, including sexual harassment

3.1. Gender balance in leadership and decision-making 

Gender equality is enshrined as a principle in the Mission Statement, in the rules for good teamwork and in ZOiS’s early career support strategy. 

  • Action: ZOiS’s Mission Statement is available on the website. The rules for good teamwork and the early career support strategy were adopted by ZOiS and can be accessed on the Intranet. 

Gender equality is identified as a task for all staff in leadership roles at ZOiS. All ZOiS staff members are sensitised to gender equality and equal opportunities and receive appropriate training.

  • Measure: Gender equality issues may be raised in the regular meetings between the Heads of the Research Clusters and research staff, as well as in the meetings between the Heads of the Research Clusters and the Institute Management. ZOiS provides its staff members with relevant information and documents on current developments in gender equality by making these materials available on the Intranet. The Research Cluster and Departmental Heads are required to continue to educate themselves in gender awareness.

Gender equality is mainstreamed as a key principle of the Institute’s work and must be reviewed on a regular basis.

  • Measure: The Institute Management reports annually on staff development, with a focus on gender equality and equal opportunities, at the Foundation Board meeting. The development of gender equality in respect of human resources is documented on an annual basis. Gender equality criteria also form part of the evaluations at ZOiS and are included in the targets agreed with the funding body. 

Gender equality is presented as a key objective in ZOiS’s PR activities and academic outreach.

  • Measure: Gender equality has its own dedicated pages on the ZOiS website, including information about the Gender Equality Plan. ZOiS’s Annual Report provides information about gender equality at the Institute; the regular Newsletter is used to provide updates on gender equality as required. ZOiS draws particular attention to gender-relevant research activities. 

Use of gender-fair language

  • Measure: Gender-neutral language is consistently used (including the use of the asterisk (*) in German) in published and internal documents, materials and application forms, in the Newsletter and Annual Report, in general correspondence and on the Institute website. The Institute also recommends that its researchers use gender-fair phrasing in academic texts and in the publication formats for which ZOiS is responsible.

Budget for measures to promote gender equality at ZOiS

  • Measure: From the start of the 2022 financial year, ZOiS is increasing the annual budget for gender equality measures to €10,000. As well as continuing to cover childcare provision at ZOiS events, this will henceforth be used to pay for the organisation of events, training activities, travel expenses relating to training, and the organisation of lecture series. Decisions relating to the planning of these financial resources will be taken by the Institute Management in consultation with the Communications team and the trusted person appointed to advise on gender equality issues. 

3.2 Gender equality in recruitment and career progression

Since ZOiS’s establishment, great importance has been attached to achieving a high percentage of female staff in all departments. ZOiS is committed to the target of gender parity, as far as possible, in the staffing of the various departments. This principle should continue to be upheld. 

  • Measure: The Institute produces – and updates annually – an overview of its workforce structure by gender across a) departments, b) salary grades, c) management, d) temporary/permanent contracts, e) full-time/part-time posts. The review is available to the Institute Management at any time and serves as the basis for staff selection processes which aim to end the underrepresentation of any gender. Employment advertisements must be phrased in gender-neutral language. They should generally include the following equality statement: “We value diversity and therefore welcome all applications, regardless of the applicant’s gender, nationality, ethnic and social origin, religion/worldview, disability, age and sexual orientation and identity. Applications from women and from persons from minority communities are particularly welcome. Preference will be given to suitably qualified candidates with a recognised disability.” The Head of Finance and Human Resources produces annual staff statistics in accordance with the stipulations of the Gender Equality Plan.

ZOiS conducts transparent and formalised recruitment procedures in which the gender equality dimension is considered at every stage.

  • Measure: Vacancies are generally advertised online. Applicants are informed about the selection process in a timely manner; selection boards should, as far as possible, be formed on the basis of gender parity. Interviews are conducted on the basis of a clearly defined set of questions, and specific selection criteria apply. The following issues may not be considered when assessing a candidate’s suitability: education or career breaks for family or caregiving; plans to make use of the opportunity to work reduced hours or take leave of absence for family or caregiving. If the selection process determines that applicants with similar qualifications are equally suitable for the vacant position, preference should be given to the underrepresented gender. The Institute Management has a responsibility to ensure that the gender aspects described above are considered at every stage in the recruitment process. The Head of Finance and Human Resources works with the Institute Management to support the development of all staff in accordance with the principles of gender equality and equal treatment. These principles are also considered during recruitment, in the preparation of human resources strategies and in relation to training and continuing professional development. 

If one gender has been underrepresented for some time in leadership roles and in research positions with staff management responsibilities, the Institute should make active efforts to recruit candidates from the underrepresented gender. 

  • Measure: The Institute Management or, in agreement with the Management, the Heads of Departments responsible for staff recruitment make active efforts to encourage applications from suitably qualified candidates. 

Staff development and career progression

Within the scope of its possibilities, ZOiS provides support to its staff members in planning their careers.

  • Measure: The Heads of the Research Clusters and Departmental Heads hold a review meeting with members of their staff at least once a year, which should address their support and training needs and provide information about career planning options. In addition, the Institute Management is available at any time to discuss career planning issues. Staff members are encouraged to participate in training on a regular basis. The Institute grants leave of absence for this purpose and generally covers or contributes to training costs.

ZOiS takes appropriate measures to support its researchers with their career progression:

  • Measure: ZOiS supports its researchers’ applications for fellowships and grants them leave of absence (special leave) insofar as their terms of employment permit. Financial support is provided from the relevant research budget for research visits abroad, attendance at conferences and networking initiatives, and for translations, language editing, publication fees and Open Access. 

Early career support is one of the core priorities identified in ZOiS’s Articles of Association. It also supports the achievement of gender equality and equal opportunities.

  • Measure: The interests of postgraduates and postdocs, including scholarship holders, based at ZOiS are considered in all aspects of the Institute’s work. This includes gender equality issues. Postgraduates at ZOiS are generally registered at the Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences (BGSS), which has a comprehensive gender equality policy in place, including a Gender Equality Plan. The Institute Management and Heads of Research Clusters provide advice specifically for postgraduates. Early career support is integrated into the planning of research projects. 

3.3 Work/life balance

ZOiS provides its staff with opportunities for mobile working (working from home), unless there are compelling work-related reasons which make this impossible.

  • Measure: Due to the high infection rates during the current pandemic, all employees are required to work from home. As soon as a regulated return to the office is possible, specific rules on working from home will be developed for researchers and research support staff. In addition, if they are experiencing gaps in access to childcare, all staff members may, in exceptional cases and in agreement with the Institute Management, bring their child/ren to the office, provided that sufficient space is available and the pandemic situation permits.

Flexible working time arrangements facilitate a work/life balance.

  • Measure: For all staff, trust-based working times apply which they can utilise on a flexible basis (no core working hours, flexitime). Upon request, the Institute enables staff members to temporarily reduce their regular hours (part-time) provided that there are no urgent operational grounds for refusal. The Finance and Human Resources team informs staff members who are interested in this possibility about the applicable rules and options.

The Institute is keen to ensure that staff members with family/caregiving responsibilities are able to attend events necessary for their career progression and engage in research. Access to training is therefore to be supported by appropriate measures such as the provision of in-house courses for employees with family/caregiving responsibilities.

  • Measure: If required, ZOiS may provide childcare for the duration of a staff member’s attendance at ZOiS events. In particular, new staff with young children receive support from the Institute in finding childcare, e.g. through the provision of information on suitable facilities. 

ZOiS organises its work processes in a family-friendly manner and thus enables its staff members to balance their work with caregiving/childcare responsibilities. 

  • Measure: Meetings (jours fixes, meetings of Heads of Research Clusters, information events, working group meetings, etc.) and training events are scheduled so that as far as possible, they are accessible to part-time staff. Evening and weekend events should be avoided. Exceptions include public events, conferences and the Institute’s staff retreats. Childcare can be arranged if necessary for all participants at ZOiS’s public events, including external attendees, if requested in advance.

ZOiS supports employees who are on parental leave or who request leave of absence due to caregiving commitments.

  • Measure: Insofar as work processes permit, staff members who take parental leave/leave of absence have a right to return. A stepwise return from parental leave/leave of absence to the previous post and original number of working hours is possible on request. For academic staff on temporary contracts, the Institute makes use of the opportunities for extension under the German Academic Short-Term Labour Contract Act (Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz – WissZeitVG) insofar as funding permits, or works with external funding bodies in order to secure such extensions. During the period of parental leave/leave of absence, the Institute, at the employee’s request, remains in regular contact and informs them about current events, objectives, training courses and activities at ZOiS. Line managers hold discussions with these employees about their reintegration into work after the period of parental leave/leave of absence.

The Institute provides advice for its employees on achieving a work/life balance. 

  • Measure: On the Intranet, ZOiS provides information for new employees about measures for achieving a work/life balance at ZOiS (as part of the onboarding dossier).

3.4    Integration of the gender dimension into research

As a humanities and social sciences research institute, ZOiS aims to engage in regular academic dialogue on the gender dimension in social relations and to address this issue in its research agenda as well. 

  • Measure: The medium-term research plan adopted in 2020 addresses the gender dimension in social relations, among other topics. In the development of new projects and the preparation of project applications, the gender perspective should be included where thematically relevant. 

Female researchers should be intensively involved in ZOiS’s research activities and academic outreach.

  • Measure: When hosting academic events and inviting speakers, every effort should be made to ensure that the proportion of women is at least 30 per cent. Among the guest researchers invited by the Institute to take part in its annual residency programme, 50 per cent of invitees should be women. If the number of applications received from suitably qualified female academics is insufficient, the Institute will respond pro-actively, e.g. by issuing direct invitations. 

The Institute utilises the development of research projects to strengthen gender equality at ZOiS. Equality of opportunity is also an important aspect of externally funded research. 

  • Measure: The Heads of the Research Clusters encourage all researchers to participate in externally funded projects and to make an active contribution to the application process. The External Funding and Research Management staff offer appropriate support and advice on project development insofar as their capacities permit.

3.5. Measures against gender-based discrimination and violence, including sexual harassment

ZOiS condemns all forms of discrimination and sexual harassment and requires all its staff members to support counter-measures and report infringements. The Institute sees it as its duty to protect all its employees from this type of workplace abuse. 

Berlin, January 2022