Promotion of Early Career Researchers and Gender Equality

At the Vetsuisse Faculty, promoting early career researchers and gender equality are two themes that are very important to us.

The Committee for Academic Promotion of Early Career Researchers and gender equality (KANG) is a permanent Committee, central to the new Faculty regulations.

The mission and goal of KANG is to safeguard the equality of all employees of the Vetsuisse Faculty and to recognise their potential and promote their careers. The KANG help to develop the willingness to change old-fashioned structures and strives to adapt working conditions to today’s needs.

KANG supports Departments and Institutes in creating attractive and family-friendly working conditions, promotes equal opportunities and contributes to the training of young academics.

Equality requirements are integrated at all levels and in all processes, especially in management. The KANG is also obliged to assist in the implementation of the Vetsuisse Faculty’s Equality Plan.

Gaby Hirsbrunner, Head of Committee and Delegate for the Vetsuisse Faculty in the Committee for Equality of Women and Men at the University of Bern, DKV
Irene Adrian-Kalchhauser, DIP
Cord Drögemüller, DCR-VPH
Christine Göpfert, DIP
Alexander Grahofer, DKV 
Eliane Marti, DCR-VPH
Anna Oevermann, DCR-VPH
Simone Schuller, DKV
Herrendorf Elina, Student Representative
Silvie Klein-Franke, Gender Equality Coordinator at the Vetsuisse Faculty

 The 120% Model in practise

The 120% Model was initiated in 2010 at the Vetsuisse Faculty. The aim is to contribute to a better balance between career and family life and to ensure continuity in the professional career. Postdocs, residents and doctoral students with care responsibilities, e.g. parenthood, may apply to reduce their workload from 100% to 60% for a maximum of one year and with the appointment of a supplementary technician or doctoral student for ≤ 60%.

The joint level of employment is 120%. During this year, the technician or doctoral student will increase their existing level of work to the same extent that the sponsored person reduces his/her workload. They take over urgent, non-adjustable clinical or laboratory work so that the ongoing research projects can be continued within the existing time framework. Training can take place before the 120% period begins. It goes without saying that the people working together in the 120% model have to understand each other well, should be cooperative and maintain an open communication. As a consequence of the more intensive cooperation, new ideas can also emerge.

Flexibility in support is important 

People who wish to be supported by the 120% Model submit a request to the Commission for Academic Promotion of Young People and Gender Equality (KANG). In assessing these applications, it is crucial that the provided support be used in pursuance of the next career objectives. However, a broad-minded assessment of the applications is also important to us. For example, one woman taking part in the scheme asked whether she could use a portion of the amount for additional day care. In doing so, she could calmly evaluate results and publish them. Of course, this plan was supported! Another woman planned during pregnancy to collect clinical data in a large cattle herd located abroad. After unexpected pregnancy problems arose, the amount could be used for another person to take her place and collect the clinical data.

Conclusions from supported people and the Vetsuisse Faculty 

Feedback from people who have been supported has been very positive: all confirmed that the model created greater manoeuvrability for day-to-day management of family life and work. Breastfeeding was perceived to be more stress-free, there was the possibility to introduce children with more flexibility into their new care system and hectic moments of family life could be dealt with in a more composed manner. Within the framework of the 120% Model, not only were crucial tasks completed and projects finished in a timely manner, there was also more space for the individuals themselves. This led, amongst other things, to new projects being tackled more purposefully. All supported individuals were able to write publications and conference papers during the supported year, or even complete their habilitation.

On the basis of these positive experiences, the Vetsuisse Faculty is of the opinion that the 120% Model is goal-oriented and also a cost-effective support measure. The examples show that thanks to these allowances, research projects can be successfully pursued and the transition back into the working world can be made in a more flexible way.

Make a request and benefit from the 120% Model! 

The creation of so-called 120% solutions (20% overlap) in clinics and research can bridge absences during pregnancy or later for childcare. For 100% positions, for example:

Postdoc 60% and technical assistance 60% 
Postdoc 70% and technical assistance 50% 
Postdoc 80% and technical assistance 40%

The maximum amount is 12'160.- per person and the maximum duration is 12 months. Requests from people with a lower degree of employment are adjusted accordingly. Applications for this allowance can be made by young academics during pregnancy and up to two years after giving birth.

Required Documents 

Curriculum Vitae 
Reasons for application 
Recommendation letter from the supervisor 
Amount requested

Applications can be submitted at any time to Prof. Dr. med. vet. Gaby Hirsbrunner, who will also happily provide any further information required.

VetMENT Mentoring - Programme of the Vetsuisse Faculty

The mentoring programme VetMENT is aimed at all Doctoral students, PhD students, Research Assistants, Residents, Postdocs, Research Associates and Assistant Professors of the Vetsuisse Faculty of the University of Bern.

VetMENT is a tool for the individual promotion of young talent and has four main objectives:

  • To actively support young scientists at the Vetsuisse Faculty with their careers.
  • To establish contacts with national and international high-profile scientists and thus to provide access to networks in order to develop their own.
  • To strengthen competence by means of workshops and to prepare the next generation of young scientists for their university career.
  • To encourage the young scientists at the Vetsuisse Faculty to develop networking together.

Mentoring is a method originally derived from the USA, to promote young people, especially women, in science, politics and economics. Mentoring in science also has a role in scientific and institutional appraisal and clearly plays a part in structural and cultural change in universities (e.g. the question of part-time working in the upper employment levels). Changes in circumstances causing gaps in Curriculum Vitae and interruptions through family obligations create inequality; Structures and career progression are orientated, particular in the university environment, to traditional lifestyle models. For VetMENT, it is a priority that the students should learn to recognize chances and opportunities; through interaction with mentors, they should be motivated towards active career planning. This exchange also provides the opportunity for an "accelerated transfer of knowledge": By working with other people, not only in the context of university but also in practice, our young academics will learn the rules and reality faster and more effectively.

Are you interested? 

Dr. Silvie Klein-Franke is responsible for the project coordination.

Please do not hesitate to contact her for further information.

Since January 2019 I am working as Gender Equality Coordinator at the Vetsuisse Faculty, and am supporting Young Veterinary Scientists, by 

  • implementation of gender equality measures
  • open and specific career- and leadership workshops
  • individual and group coaching 
  • VetMENT, the generous and highly successful mentoring program of the VetSuisse Faculty, that encompasses a mentorship, career workshops, peer networking and  monthly group-coaching.

Please let me know YOUR ideas and proposals for improvement  - to make the Vetsuisse Faculty Bern the best possible place for all kinds of Young Scientists!

In many respects I have experienced myself long ago what you as early researchers are going through right now.

I  became an «academic nomad» - a migrant through disciplines and German speaking countries to realize integration of a family of 6 with my working ambitions – with a patchwork CV.

I did my PhD at the Max-Planck-Institute for Immunology 1991, then coordinated a UNESCO awarded international, interdisciplinary postgraduate education-experiment addressing sustainability as well as topical issues of the largest then world conferences.

Later I led and supported change in a variety of academic units: a centre for tropical agriculture and forestry, a language centre, a careers centre and - as a professor of applied sciences - developed 4 international study programs regarding Human Resources, Organizational Development and Leadership with 45 international, highly renowned lecturers. In parallel I have been working as a consultant for high profile universities, companies, governmental institutions and funding agencies (e.g. Stifterverband für die Wissenschaft).

Since moving to Switzerland I proceed this free-lance work in addition to my Vetsuisse Faculty engagement – among others developed the SNSF-PRIMA Leadership Program and implementing it now.

I am eager to support the Vetsuisse Faculty in their ambition to become a «Learning Organization» ( . It is this very organizational collaboration form, that enables excellence of experts through sharing diverse viewpoints and therewith to proceed towards sustainability as noted among others by Nobel laureate E. Ostrom.

If you have any questions about equality, the gender equality plan or young scientist support or if you would like a personal meeting, please do not hesitate to contact me.