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Pro Exzellenzia 4.0 breaking through glass ceiling


Programme qualifies women for managerial positions

Around 3,800 people will have gained further qualifications as well as valuable career and leadership skills through scholarships, workshops, advisory services, coaching and networking events when Pro Exzellenzia 4.0, Hamburg’s career centre for women, celebrates its tenth anniversary in January. “This special mix of measures makes Pro Exzellenzia 4.0 a unique, cross-university programme in Germany that qualifies women for leading positions, said Doris Cornils, Manager of Pro Exzellenzia 4.0.

Focus on compatibility of family and career

Pro Exzellenzia 4.0-Stipendiatin Dr. Ghesal Fahimi-Steingraeber

One of the first scholarship holders was Dr. Ghesal Fahimi-Steingraeber, who left her career in technology management and returned to university to complete her Ph.D. Funding from Pro Exzellenzia 4.0 allowed her to concentrate fully on research and benefit from workshops and seminars. “The topic of women in management positions and the compatibility of family and career was prioritised. I had a baby in the process of completing my Ph.D. Yet, I was still backed and encouraged to pursue both my wish for a family and career at the same time,” said Fahimi-Steingraeber. Today, she heads the sales and marketing department of a family-owned manufacturing company. “Pro Exzellenzia has helped me not to lose my self-confidence in combining family and career,” she stressed.

Role models prove inspiring

Pro Exzellenzia 4.0-Stipendiatin Charlotte Ruhmlieb

However, too many women still encounter the so-called glass ceiling in their efforts to gain managerial positions. “The concept of Pro Exzellenzia 4.0 is geared precisely towards this topic,” Cornils stressed. “Few women can be found in MINT subjects especially.” Thus, positive role models like chemist Charlotte Ruhmlieb, who has been a Pro Exzellenzia 4.0 scholarship holder since early 2019, are all the more important. The programme has boosted her interest in managerial positions. “For the first time, I became aware of how complex and multi-faceted the topic of leadership is and the importance of communication skills,” she explained. Ruhmlieb has also benefited from the programme’s network and learned to draw attention to her excellent research. “I already have a very promising postdoctoral position abroad after my doctorate.”

Soft skills

All too often, professional expertise alone does not suffice for a successful career, said Cornils. And that’s where Pro Exzellenzia 4.0 comes in. “If the participants are ready to acquire skills such as networking, self-promotion and soft skills for managers at an early stage in their careers, they are more likely to climb the career ladder successfully.”

Pro Exzellenzia 4.0

Pro Exzellenzia 4.0 is funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and the City of Hamburg. Hamburg Innovation GmbH is managing the project, which began on January 1, 2017 and lasts until December 31, 2020. Doris Cornils and her former colleague Anne-Kathrin Guder were awarded the Chefsache Award 2016, which is presented under the auspices of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, at the ZEIT-Wirtschaftsforum in Hamburg for their innovative concept as well as exemplary and sustainable commitment to equal opportunities. More details of the anniversary year programme can be found on:

Melissa KnausJan. 2, 2020
wissenschaft Frauen