women in STEM

Career paths

Seven women, seven careers – one conclusion: women and girls who are passionate about science should just go for it and not let anyone stop them. Because if you keep going, no obstacle will be insurmountable.

Daria Bunina

Learn more about Daria Bunina's research

Michela Di Virgilio

Learn more about Michela Di Virgilio's research

In order for the human immune system to effectively fight off pathogens, B cells need to smash up and reassemble their own DNA. Michela Di Virgilio searches for factors controlling this important process, which also have crucial implications for our predisposition to cancer.

Researcher Profile: The DNA repair analyst

Stefanie Grosswendt

Uta Höpken

Learn more about Uta Höpken's research

Tumor cells search for niches in tissue where they can grow and multiply. Uta Höpken studies how these cells migrate through the body and interact with other cells in their special niches. Her goal is to use this knowledge to train therapeutic CAR T cells to detect and destroy cancer cells.

Researcher Profile: The trainer

Hanna Hörnberg

Learn more about Hanna Hörnberg's research

Behavior can be observed in the brain. Swedish neuroscientist Hanna Hörnberg looks for the molecular and cellular changes that occur in the nerve cells of people with depression or neurodevelopmental conditions – and hopes to create new basic knowledge that can help diagnosis and guide support needs.

Researcher Profile: The behavior analyzer


Ana Pombo

Learn more about Ana Pombo's research

Ana Pombo wants to understand the rules that govern our genome. This quest has led her to discover how important our genetic architecture is for the functioning of life. In the long term, she hopes her research will help understand diseases with complex origin such as autism and epilepsy.

Researcher Profile: The art of DNA folding

Ashley Sanders

Our female principal investigators

women rock!

How we promote equal opportunities

Our gender equality plan


We establish the principles of equal opportunity at various levels:

  • in the organizational culture
  • in the management
  • in personnel development 
  • in recruitment processes
  • in career development

Gender Equality Plan (2021-2027) (PDF)


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How we hire and retain women


We actively recruit excellent female scientists when appointing new positions. To ensure that young female researchers stay, we support them in various ways.


Our target quotas are based on the cascade model and are an important management tool for improving the proportion of women in our scientific management positions. In this model, the actual quota for one career level forms the target for the next career level.


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Our mentoring programs


We offer mentoring programs for various target groups: 

  • Postdocs and colleagues in science management
  • Career support through mentors from industry, teaching and research, as well as through various workshop offers
  • External mentoring programs
  • Mentoring of junior research group leaders by experienced senior scientists at the Max Delbrück Center
  • Postdoc2PhD mentoring


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What our work culture offers


We encourage a work culture that balances work and social commitments. The measures include, for example:

  • flexible working time models and mobile working
  • Opportunities for childcare on campus
  • Information and support services for nursing care
  • Welcome & Family Office

The "Career and Family Audit" certificate is proof of our comprehensive and sustainable commitment to a family and life-phase-conscious personnel policy. 


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How we raise awareness


We offer workshops to promote gender awareness, deal with unconscious bias and use gender-equitable language, such as in our DEI week. These workshops are also intended to highlight concrete options for action.



Visibility and networking


We aim to increase the visibility of female scientists and their achievements and promote networking. To this end, we initiate various measures, including Wikipedia Edit-a-thons, which aim to publish more information about outstanding female scientists and highlight their contributions.


We also organize events such as the "STEM Passion" exhibition, which not only serve as a platform for exchange, but also provide an opportunity for discussions about women in science.


Against sexual harassment, power abuse and bullying


We are actively committed to the prevention of sexual harassment, abuse of power and bullying in the workplace. To this end, we have developed a clear anti-harassment policy that not only sets out guidelines, but also includes regular training for new employees. In addition, leaders undergo mandatory training to ensure a safe and respectful working environment.


To ensure that our employees receive appropriate support, we have established trained conflict advisors as first points of contact. They are available to intervene in potential conflict situations, find solutions and support those affected.


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Providing insights into professional fields


We are committed to raising awareness of careers in (bio)informatics and data science. As part of these efforts, we take part in Girls' Day to introduce girls in particular to these exciting professions.


This includes not only theoretical insights, but also practical experience and the opportunity to speak directly with experts in these fields.


Our initiative aims to spark young girls' interest in careers in the fields of (bio)informatics and data science and to highlight possible career paths and pave the way for future talent.


Videos: Duygu Atceken
Scrollytelling: Silvio Schwartz
Social media campaign: Felix Petermann, Karoline Knop
Editing: Jana Schlütter, Felix Petermann, Jutta Kramm
Scheduling: Timkehet Teffera Mekonnen

A special thank you to Ana Pombo, Hanna Hörnberg, Stefanie Grosswendt, Daria Bunina, Ashley Sanders, Uta Höpken, Michela Di Virgilio and their teams!