The Dual Career Network was founded by four universities and eleven non-university research institutes in Frankfurt and Darmstadt to encourage couples, the so-called "dual career couples", working in science and arts to come to the region. All institutes affiliated have experienced a reluctance on part of excellent researchers to opt against an appointment if this had meant to compromise the partner's job or to accept long distance journeys between family and working place. At the same time it is hard to offer matching employments for such couples. The newly founded Dual Career Network of versatile research organizations may remedy the situation. By the means of contact persons in each institution requests from within the network can be directed to the proper addressee.
Upon the joint initiative of Goethe University, Frankfurt and Darmstadt's Technical University, a memorandum of understanding was signed. The negotiation process within this regional partnership for the promotion of "dual career couples" was supported by the Hessian Ministry for Science and Art. At present such a large-scale and binding dual career network established by universities and non-university research institutes is unique in Germany.
Arjan Vink, former director of a renowned brain research institutein the Netherlands, successfully put this to the test. After his wife Fleur Kemmers had assumed a junior chair in Numismatics at Goethe University, the couple commuted between the two countries. Soon it became clear that Vink wanted to look for an appointment in the Frankfurt region. Via the dual career service at Goethe University, who supports partners of newly appointed scholars, a first contact to the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research at Frankfurt could be established. When the institute advertised a new position for the establishment and directorship of an international graduate school, Vink applied for the job and was hired. Upon his new employment, he says: "I am very glad about this new and exciting position, especially because it is located in an international environment. At the same time my wife and I can both work and live in Frankfurt. We are happy to be here and feel good in a sense of ‘eventually having arrived’."
There is positive word-of-mouth that the professional integration of partners also provides for longer employment periods. Currently, the network is in contact with half a dozen of other research institutions from the region. Professor Rosér Valentì, vice president of Goethe University, is happy about the situation: "Being located in a region so strong in research is a great advantage. This holds true not only for research cooperation but also when it comes to hiring the best and brightest." Dr. Manfred Efinger, chancellor of Darmstadt University of Technology (TU), finds the support for dual career couples similarily important: "Against the backdrop of national and international competition the compatibility of career and family plays and ever-increasing role. Hence for Darmstadt TU the cooperation in the Rhine-Main network is another strategic alignment to win excellent researchers for our university."
Concurrently Harald Müller, executive director of Peace Research Institute Frankfurt, holds: "We increase our international visibility not only as an outstanding research institute but also as an attractive employer." By this new offer excellent researchers as well as professionals and their partners could be ideally supported in their common career plans, says Müller.
In addition, companies begin to address the issue, too. They experience their preferred candidates' rejecting job offers due to lacking perspectives for their partners as well. With regard to the impending skills shortage this trend must not be neglected. Especially corporations who promote family-friendly policies are gradually being forced to act. There have already been numerous contacts established between the dual career services and companies. For the future, the newly-founded network would appreciate corporate memberships.
The 15 founding members of the Network:
- Goethe University Frankfurt
- Darmstadt University of Technology
- Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences
- Hochschule Darmstadt, University of Applied Sciences
- Leibniz Institute for Educational Research and Educational Information (DIPF)
- Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (FIAS)
- Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Research in Visual Computing (Fraunhofer IGD)
- Fraunhofer Institut for Secure Information Technology (Fraunhofer SIT)
- Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH (GSI)
- Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF)
- Max Planck Institute of Biophysics
- Max Planck Institute for European Legal History
- Max Planck Institute for Brain Research
- Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research
- Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung (SGN)