2007 Family Friendliness
Family and ETH – a good match?
The AVETH started 2007 the Hot Topic with a survey on how to reconcile family and science. The reactions could not have differed more and included hymns of praise on the supervisors as well as recounts of absurd obstacles. This overwhelming feedback encouraged us to address family-friendliness at ETH, a topic that is of great concern to the scientific staff at ETH. Thus, we decided to approach this topic from multiple sides.
We collected and reviewed related information to create a clearly structured and comprehensive website. On the political level we brought the topic into discussion in various levels and bodies of ETH and could even push through a motion which demands establishing work load relief measures for parents and an ETH audit. It’s now up to the board of ETH Zurich – but we will keep close. Our biggest and probably most successful project was the award of the Golden Tricycle, rewarding a family-friendly supervisor. We collaborated with the ETH Office for Equal Opportunities (Equal!) to honor a supervisor for his/her efforts to implement family-friendly policies within the research group in an exemplary way. By collaborating with Equal! we could also embed the award and the underlying ideas in an extensive supporting program. It started with the travelling exhibition “Work-Life-Balance at ETH Zurich” and also included a panel discussion with young families and ETH President Ralph Eichler on how to balance science and family.
The absolute highlight of these activities was the awarding ceremony of the Golden Tricycle. To find the laureate, all employees could nominate their supervisors by sketching how they create a family-friendly environment. The number and quality of nominations was overwhelming! More than forty persons were nominated and described as role models. Out of this long list of excellent candidates, a top-class jury selected the laureate. Eventually the Golden Tricycle was awarded to Nina Buchmann during the Christmas Reception of the Board of ETH Zurich (Schulleitung). This event provided a great stage to spread the word. We received a lot of positive feedback and therefore decided to award The Golden Tricycle regularly once a year. But regardless of this award, the situation at ETH with regard to family-friendliness has not changed significantly. We provided a starting point by bringing the topic into discussion and illustrating that family and science can be balanced – also on an excellent and international level!