Staff and students at the university from all age groups and various different nationalities and ethnic backgrounds came together at the University of Stuttgart last week to celebrate the seventh Germany-wide Diversity Day. Under the motto “We are US! We are the University of Stuttgart”, around 50 members of the university listened to speeches and visited a “diversity market” at the ARENA2036 at the Vaihingen Campus. At the same time, an exhibition with interactive elements about issues regarding educational opportunities and social background as well as the “Language Buddy” and “Talking to Refugees” projects was held at the City Center Campus.
“Diversity affects all of us at the university, and it’s worth getting out of your comfort zone and embracing it. This opens up new opportunities for all of us”, says Professor Moniola Olayioye, Vice Rector for Early Career Researchers and Diversity, who helped bring the Diversity Day at the University of Stuttgart to life. She said that she has seen the benefits that diversity can bring to her Biology research team for herself. “Before, my research team was all women. When the team became more diverse we started seeing new and more creative findings in our research.”
Professor Meike Tilebein from the Institute for Diversity Studies in Engineering at the University of Stuttgart and Kathrin Trump from the private-sector Institute for Diversity Management spoke about what diversity is, what benefits it brings, and how it contributes to innovation. Certain trends mean that the level of diversity is continually increasing, says Trump. Demographic change, internationalization and migration are just some examples of how teams are becoming more and more diverse. Tilebein explained that this diversity brings a lot of advantages. Research teams are becoming more innovative and creative, and can solve problems more quickly.
Diversity comes with challenges
However, diversity in a group also comes with challenges. “The unconscious stereotypes which we all have inside us are very powerful”, says Trump. This results in a high potential for conflict. Tilebein and Trump both agree that this is why diversity at a university has to be managed. This is the only way that everybody can make the most of the potential offered by diverse teams. “Diversity at universities is a major task. It calls for a lot of knowledge, skills and creativity, but it’s worth it for everybody”, says Trump.
“Diversity Marketplace” keeps visitors informed about diversity at the University of Stuttgart
This diversity is also reflected in the visitors to the event. For example, exchange students from India and South Africa were there to listen to the speeches. “Diversity is especially important for us”, said Alecia Erasmus, who comes from South Africa and who is spending a week as a guest at the University of Stuttgart. Student teacher Dilan Erdogan also enjoyed the event. “I learned a lot about diversity and found the speeches to be informative.”
At the Diversity Marketplace afterwards, the Gender Equality Office, the Language Center, the “Education and Social Inequality” working group at the University of Stuttgart and the non-profit network ArbeiterKind.de were among the many groups represented. They showcased what they have done and the measures they have introduced to make sure that uniqueness and diversity are embraced at the University of Stuttgart.