Impressions from Diversity Day 2020

For the second time, the University of Stuttgart took part in the nationwide Diversity Day with an activity and published its diversity concept in this context. This, and the launch of the new “Intelligent through Diversity” website, is also the starting signal for a comprehensive diversity campaign.

Just in time for the nationwide Diversity Day of the Charter of Diversity, the University of Stuttgart published its diversity concept with the slogan “Intelligent through Diversity”. In addition to the mission statement, the concept contains information on the new organizational structure of diversity management, such as the establishment of a new senate committee, the Senate Committee on Diversity & Equality. The Diversity Round Table, a discussion forum with flexible participation of all those who wish to promote diversity at the university, continues to play an important role.

This year, the Diversity Day has to take place online. Challenge accepted! The new website goes online in the morning and invites the university members to take a “diversity tour” of the University of Stuttgart.

Diversity Day

This year, the welcome address by Prof. Monilola Olayioye, Vice Rector for Early Career Researchers and Diversity, is given by video message. Individual diversity players introduce themselves and their projects, and university members from the various groups make their own personal statement on diversity with a selfie. The VisVAR team around Jun. Prof. Michael Sedlmair is an example of a diversity team that works together successfully and innovatively.

ZOn display is a minmap on language barriers for foreign students, an example of diversity as discussed in the idea workshop.
Example from the idea workshop on Diversity Day

At noon, excitement mounts as the virtual ideas workshop begins, for which there were more than 60 registrations. Up to 10 diversity topics and a lot of interaction in small groups are on the agenda, and all this is happening online - a pilot project!

All status groups are represented at the ideas workshop

The coaches Dr. Eric Heintze, project manager of Let US start!, and Merve Emir from the Institute of Entrepreneurship in Technology and Science are guiding all participants through an interactive program, providing fresh ideas and offering assistance, so again this year new technologies will be put to the test. Thanks to the active support from TIK employees Sannah König and Maria Barnhart, the technical prerequisites are in place and the ideas workshop is ready to go.

The group of participants is diverse: students, administrative staff, members of the Rectorate, professors - all status groups are represented and learn, during a first round of speed dating, that they have a lot in common. The working groups meet and exchange ideas on a variety of topics, such as diversity in makerspaces, language barriers for foreign students, and the influence of gender on diseases and drug research. Many participants are deeply involved in a creative idea-finding process, in which new approaches to solving diversity problems are found (ideation process), and sort their notes on the miro board, a platform for visual collaboration. Others, unfortunately, left the workshop early due to technical problems. But their contribution, too, was recorded and will be heard in the final presentations.

On Diversity Day, the participants jointly work on the topics online.

Spontaneous conversations

The groups present their results in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Conversations arise spontaneously about issues such as the reconciliation of work and family, which, in view of the current situation, confront women in particular with the challenges of a “gender care gap”. Everyone is invited to speak out and discover topics to which they may have had little connection in the past. And so at the end of the ideas workshop it turns out that some so-called “first-generation students” were present, and they spontaneously “came out”. So one important step has already been taken: talking about the issues and removing taboos! This provides visibility and enables identification.

Learning from each other

“The Diversity Day 2020 has shown, albeit digitally and from a distance, that the members of the University of Stuttgart can all learn from each other,” Katharina Wilhelm, Personal Assistant to the Vice Rector for Early Career Researchers and Diversity, says enthusiastically. “We are ‘intelligent through diversity’. Although there is still a lot to do, many members of the University of Stuttgart are committed to diversity and are open to new challenges and different perspectives.”

The participants of the ideas workshop left the webex training with an optimistic “to be continued”, intending to further pursue their cooperation. Prof. Monilola Olayioye appreciates this and calls upon all groups to present their results to the Senate Committee on Diversity and Equality on 22 June to discuss the implementation of the collected project ideas.

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