Focus on equal opportunities and protection from discrimination - also and especially during the Corona pandemic

On this page, leaders and lecturers in particular will find information on how they can contribute to equal opportunities and protection against discrimination in corona times.


The corona pandemic is accompanied by challenges for society as well as for members and affiliates of the University of Göttingen. It fundamentally changes work, studies, teaching and research. Many people are insecure, have fears and worries, plans and arrangements change quickly or become obsolete, many questions arise. Hence, it becomes obvious that the Corona Pandemic and its consequences do not affect all members and relatives of the University in the same way: Depending on their life situation and circumstances, current political and organisational measures have different effects. For example, people who have to provide care for others face particular pressure. While schools and childcare facilities are closed, they may be responsible for homeschooling and childcare while having to work from home or write qualification papers at the same time. There is reason to fear that the increase in care work due to the Corona pandemic will reinforce the still-existing division of labour between the genders and lead to professional disadvantages, especially for women. Therefore, it is currently particularly important to design university processes in such a way that all employees and doctoral students can fulfil their care responsibilities regardless of gender. Overall, difficult organisation of everyday life, psychosocial insecurities, social exclusion and existential threats due to financial distress or experiences of discrimination or violence lead to new or increase existing multiple burdens. The aim of this website is to draw attention to these - new and old - disadvantages and discrimination applying the perspectives of equality, compatibility and diversity. It would like to raise awareness of the importance of equal opportunities and protection against discrimination, also and especially in times of Corona. All members and relatives of the university may work together to ensure that existing inequalities are not aggravated and further discrimination against vulnerable groups is prevented.
Particularly affected by the current situation are (among others) people

  • with responsibility for care (children, nursing) in various household and family constellations (also shared flats, patchwork families etc.), especially single-parent families
  • with low participation in support networks (e.g. communities, families, shared flats), e.g. internationals
  • who belong to the so-called risk groups
  • with impairments, chronic illnesses (including psychological) and disabilities
  • with limited resources such as time, financial security, space to work/teach from home and precarious contract constellations
  • with lack of access to technical equipment (insufficient network connection or computer capacity), infrastructure and working materials
  • with only basic digital skills
  • who suffer from increased racial discrimination (e.g. racial profiling during control measures on contact restrictions, anti-Asian racism)
  • who are affected by disadvantage, discrimination and (domestic) violence in their own living environment due to the curfew regulations
  • who are living in cramped living conditions, which do not allow physical distance and necessary hygiene measures to the required extent.

This list is not exhaustive.

Below you will find information and suggestions on how to consider the different living situations and situations and their effects when designing solutions and new measures during the corona pandemic.

Leadership - organisation of work processes and teams and supervision of qualification work

As a leader and as a supervisor of qualification work, you are currently challenged in a special way to ensure cohesion in work teams and "functioning" work processes. Communication flows and work processes have to be (re-)organized - often under rapidly changing conditions, high time pressure and without the usual spaces and tools.

Basic information

  • Please take into account that the time, space, technical and emotional resources of the employees or doctoral candidates may be limited. Where applicable also make clear your own personal constraints
  • Employees or doctoral students with children have to provide full-time childcare (sometimes with additional homeschooling) and care while working and have only limited control of time and scheduling. Particularly affected are single parents, parents of pre-school-age children, persons in patchwork family constellations, as well as international employees and doctoral candidates. Relatives providing care must always reckon with the lack or absence of outpatient nursing services or caregivers.
  • Precariously employed people with short contract terms or fee contracts are currently confronted with immense uncertainty and emotional stress.

Recommendations

  • Make sure that time arrangements for home office and for joint work or coordination processes are as flexible and individually adapted as possible.
  • Take into account that only limited work performance may be possible.
  • Give your employees and doctoral candidates a clear signalthat you are aware that delays can occur and that you are committed to ensuring that there will be no disadvantage in this regard.
  • Make sure that employees and doctoral students who belong to the so-called risk group can protect themselves without being forced to explain their situation in working contexts (also see Coronavirus: Information A-Z, keyword "risk group").
  • Please bear in mind that not all employees or doctoral candidates have an optimally equipped home office workstation. Ask your employees and doctoral candidates whether they have the necessary technical infrastructure (network connection, operating systems, terminal equipment, computer capacity) and digital skills before you select tools for collaboration and set up communication processes. Make sure that the technical possibilities are as barrier-free as possible and do not require any special skills (also see Coronavirus: Information A-Z, keyword "accessibility").
  • Remember that caring for relatives, belonging to a risk group, financial hardship, precarious employment, increased (e.g. racist) experiences of discrimination in the context of Corona, or fear of discrimination and violence in the family or residential environment can be a huge emotional burden. In particular, keep in mind the situation of international employees or doctoral candidates (language barriers, consequences under residence law).
  • Take into account that video formats can impair the privacy of employees and doctoral students and ensure, within the scope of your possibilities, that digital rooms are used without discrimination, for example by making the possibilities of the respective tool (e.g. sound and camera shutdown by user) transparent from the very beginning. Discuss which parts of a conference are recorded/published and which are not. If necessary, point out possible private chat options for discussion of the content and that joint responsibility for fair cooperation can be assumed.
  • Signalize approachability to your team, also for issues that otherwise do not play a role in the work context and draw attention to complaint possibilities in case of discrimination in digital spaces (e.g. Hate Speech) (also see Coronavirus: Information A-Z, keyword "advice & consulting").




Teaching - Design and implementation of courses and examinations


As a lecturer you are currently challenged to design your teaching - courses, consultation, supervision and examinations - online under great time pressure and to implement it in digital form. In many places the general conditions (legal questions, technical infrastructure, data protection, etc.) are often still unclear (for more information Coronavirus: Messages to University staff und Information A-Z for teachers). This is exacerbated by the need to reconcile individual compatibility requirements and (particularly in the qualification phase and for lecturers) precarious employment relationships and financial difficulties.
Basic and concrete recommendations for protection against discrimination in teaching can now be found on the Teaching – Protection against discrimination in digital learning.





Joint development of solutions - communication, co-determination and transparency

Crises such as the corona pandemic require coordinating actors, clear decision-making structures, rapid action and, in order to keep everyone on the same track, continuous information, communication channels and approachable contact persons. However, the development of concrete solutions and the implementation of viable measures for everyone also require participation and co-determination. Even during the Corona pandemic, equal opportunities and protection against discrimination can only be achieved jointly and with the participation and co-determination of elected representatives and interest groups, as well as in dialogue with potentially affected people. Transparency is fundamental so that everyone can contribute.

Recommendations Enlist the expertise and support of the following actors early and continuously in the development of solutions and the design of measures - within the framework of the usual committees or special working groups:

  • Equal Opportunities Officers
  • All status groups
  • Student organisations and representatives of (post-)doctoral students
  • The staff council and Representatives for Severely Handicapped Persons
  • Interest and university groups
  • The specialist departments and experts in administration, science management and technology
  • municipal actors where contextually necessary

Consider equal opportunities and protection against discrimination in new regulations (e.g. ordinances, directives etc.) in the context of the corona crisis. Engage in conversation with those who are affected by the solutions, who have to deal and work with them. Ask what is already working well and how it can be further improved, what is still missing and how information and communication can be optimised.


Due to the highly dynamic nature of the current situation, this website is regularly supplemented and updated (last update: 10.08.2020)

Please send an e-mail to doris.hayn@zvw.uni-goettingen.de if you know of any information that we can link to on this page. Let us know which topics and information we can add.