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Inside academia

In addition to events organised by partner universities/institutions, which ML4Q promotes, the cluster is establishing a new event format: Inside academia. Within the framework of this format, talks, networking and information events and activities for specific target groups will take place, focussing mainly on non-academic aspects of the scientific environment. The aim is to create awareness of various challenges and inequalities within the scientific system, to provide opportunities for networking within different target groups, but also to create space for discussions and dialogue.
Basically, Inside academia is an internal cluster format; selected events will also be made accessible to external interested people.


Upcoming events


On 28 June, 1 p.m., Prof. Anneke Steegh will give an online lecture on: Challenging the System: Examining Identities in STEM.

In this talk, you will gain a basic understanding of the mechanisms behind inequities in STEM. After a brief and concise input on the role of gender differences, stereotypes, and identity in STEM, we will examine personal identities and reflect on them in the context of STEM domains. The goal of this talk is to develop an understanding and awareness of how personal and professional identities can influence STEM domains and in what ways they can contribute to creating inclusive and equitable environments.

Anneke Steegh is a gender and identity researcher in the area of STEM and science didactics, as well as a biologist and has been working on gender, stereotypes and identity in STEM education since 2016. She is committed to making STEM domains even more inclusive and diverse through gender-sensitive and inclusive action and in allyship with people from all backgrounds, fostering a culture of belonging for everyone involved.

Please register here


On the occasion of World Mental Health Day, Desiree Dickerson will give an online talk on the topic of “Isolation & Belonging” on 10 October, 09:45 a.m.

Academic life can be an isolating experience for many people. For many, the role requires you to live far from home and those you love; for many, the workload can impact significantly on your ability or your desire to socialise and maintain relationships.

We explore:

  • Some of the many sources of isolation and loneliness that are inherent in our system,
  • Why is it so bad for us? The answer to which lies with our sense of belonging and identity.
  • How we can begin to change it – to increase our sense of belonging within the academic and local community through creating a sense of safety, connection and common threads.


Desiree Dickerson PhD is a clinical psychologist who specialises in the mental health and well-being of researchers and the academic community. A former researcher in the neurosciences, Desiree works globally with universities, lab groups, and academics in the pursuit of a healthier, sustainable approach to research. 


Previous events



To celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March 2024, Prof. Carla Schriever gave an online talk on the topic: Who is this Mr Noether? On the interdisciplinary (in)visualisation of female scientists.

In her talk, starting with the question which female scientists the audience would be able to name, she highlighted how little we actually know about the lives and research of many female scientists and that a lot of what we do know is often related to male colleagues. Using the specific examples of Lise Meitner and Hannah Arendt, she showed that similar experiences (for example, fleeing the Nazi regime to the USA ) and dealing with similar topics from the perspective of their respective disciplines (the atomic bomb) would certainly have offered space for connection, but that we have no information about this. In contrast, we are often well informed about (interdisciplinary) relationships between male scientists. Prof. Schriever also emphasised the importance of role models and presented approaches on how interdisciplinary solidarity among female scientists could possibly support their participation in academia.

After the exciting talk, the speaker’s book “Vordenkerinnen. Physikerinnen und Philosophinnen durch die Jahrhunderte” was drawn. During registration, there was the opportunity to indicate which woman inspires one and for what reason. The lucky winner was picked with the help of the wheel of fortune.


On 23 February 2024, the second Inside academia event took place at the Residenz cinema in Cologne, focusing on women* and what it can mean to be a woman* in the scientific system.
Interested female* natural scientists were invited to watch the film “Picture a scientist” together. After the film, ML4Q-professor Silvia Pappalardi gave a brief insight into how she has experienced her career as a female scientist in physics so far, where she herself has faced prejudices or barriers and what it means to her to be a woman in science. Following this short input, there was the opportunity to exchange ideas openly, share experiences, discuss critically and express everything that affects one as a woman* in science and especially in the natural sciences/physics. This event addressed both the female* scientists of ML4Q and in the natural sciences at the participating universities.
A report on the evening can be found here
* all persons who are categorised as female and are confronted with gender-specific prejudices, barriers and challenges

On 24 November 2023, the first event within the new ML4Q-format “Inside academia” took place. Prof. Jana Lasser, founding member of the Network against Abuse of Power in Science, was invited as guest. In her talk “Power abuse in academia – problem description and suggestions for solutions”, she highlighted various forms of power in the academic system, illustrated their abuse using case studies and suggested possible solutions at an individual, institutional and system level.
The following discussion offered the opportunity to dive deeper and more explicitly into the topic and was used lively by the participants. We are happy that the talk was well attended by internal and external participants.

Not part of the Inside academia frame yet, but a first start in the context of what Inside academia is all about was the talk by Prof. Martina Erlemann at the ML4Q Conference on 15 September 2023.
Her talk on Gender & Diversity in the Cultures of Physics presented research on gender and diversity in physics, with a particular focus on studies on workplace cultures in physics and their impact on young scientists’ sense of belonging to the physics community.
The following discussion was an opportunity to ask questions and to put everything heard directly into context with one’s own experience in the research environment.