Equality and internationalization are strategic success factors for universities in this globalized competitive world. This is relevant to building the future of European high education through alliances. Last week, I presented ENHANCE Alliance and our diversity and gender field activities at the commission of Gender Equality and Internationalization of the German National Gender Equality Officers Network. BUKOF is the most important German university and research network of gender officers and contributes to the gender-related discussion in policy-making processes.

“Gender Equality and Internationalization” is one of the different commissions that BUKOF has. The unique thing about this is that it combines two strategic topics, which are very important for universities and research institutions. But most of them might not see the direct connection between gender equality and internationalization at first. Both topics have a strategic position, which makes synergies possible.

Talents with a better gender equality policy

How can gender policy profit from internationalization? What are the effects of internationalization and gender equality in the other policy fields? How can we develop policies, which consider both topics? What is the role of European mobility for gender equality? How can we attract more international talents with a better gender equality policy? How can we develop the organizational culture with a gender-aware internationalization strategy? BUKOF has recognized these connections and founded this active commission, which produces policy papers and recommendations for universities and research institutes.

The existence of this commission is an excellent indicator that these two critical topics, equality, and internationalization, are very much well connected and relevant for each other. As an Ombudsperson for Diversity at ENHANCE Alliance, I was happy to get the invitation to present ENHANCE because our alliance combines internationality and equality perfectly. The presentation was online, and we had representatives of around 15 German universities attending. Some universities were also active in European alliances, and some considered joining an alliance in the next round.

Central role of Diversity and Gender Equality in our alliance

I exposed ENHANCE in general lines, sharing with them the main ideas of the work package on diversity and gender equality, and showed them some of the deliverables we are currently working on. They were impressed by the central role of diversity and gender equality in our alliance. It was considered positive that we have a whole work package committed to diversity and gender. They had questions about how we are organized in the work package (working group, subgroups, and deliverables). They also wanted to know if I was doing this alone (Of course not! We have an excellent expert team from our partner universities). They were also interested in the topics we worked on (deliverables). They want to be updated about the next steps of ENHANCE very much. I promised them to share the first edition of ENHANCE’s Diversity and Gender Equality Report that will be published in January 2022.

It was very inspiring for me to meet this BUKOF commission, which combines internationalization and gender equality. Again, it showed me how much synergy potential there is in both fields, which play an essential role practically in all universities and, for sure, to build a strong, equal, and diverse base for the European High Education future model.

More information about the commission can be found here (in German).

Melih Oezkardes, Ombudsperson for Diversity at ENHANCE Alliance.