Advantages of Networking

The feminist academic network WUMAN provides a forum to network and discuss issues related to academic careers. Equality and diversity are the focus, and everyone is invited no matter their gender identity.

How do I prepare for an academic career? How can I balance an academic career and a family? And how can I get started on saving into a pension at the start of my academic career? These are the kinds of questions that get raised at WUMAN events. 

The network has existed for almost five years at the University of Mannheim. Most of the discussions take place at regular lunch meetings, where information on various topics is passed on and there is time for questions and conversation. Anyone can come who is interested in the individual topics or is looking for like-minded people at the beginning of their academic careers. “The network meetings are a great place to exchange ideas and views,” said Pauline Kleinschlömer. “I started my doctorate during the pandemic and am grateful for having found WUMAN during that time, when I had a new job and there were social distancing regulations that made it much harder to get to know new people. At the WUMAN events I could make contacts with people from other disciplines. It did me good and made it easier to get started when I saw that we were all dealing with similar issues.”

Last semester, Kleinschlömer coordinated WUMAN’s Mannheim regional group together with Merle-Sophie Thielmann. The networks’ founders, Dr. Anne-Sophie Waag and Dr. Meike Bonefeld, are now focused on expanding the network throughout Germany. “There isn’t yet any nationwide network in Germany in which early-career researchers can organize themselves regardless of where they are located. But the fixed-term contracts in academia that often lead to frequent relocations mean that this group could really benefit from such a network,” said Thielmann.  

While digital meetings are important for discussions in the national network, the two Mannheim doctoral candidates have a different goal for the Mannheim regional group: “Now we want to draw in more people to our in-person events,” said Kleinschlömer. There will be opportunities to meet people in person at the end-of-semester picnic on 14 June, for example, or at the lunch meetings during the fall semester. The program is currently being planned. “We are also open for cooperative projects. If someone has an idea for a topic or if there’s an initiative that has something in common with our goals, then just let us know,” said Thielmann and Kleinschlömer.

Text: Katja Bauer/May 2023

WUMAN (in German)