Prima inter pares? — Margot Becke (1914–2009) at the MPG general assembly 1972 in Bremen. Becke, who was the second women in the history of the MPG to be assigned director of an MPI, was elected chairwoman of the Scientific Council. Asked whether she considered her successful career an accomplishment for women in science, Becke famously replied: »The Max Planck Society so progressive that issues such as women being underprivileged cannot be considered.« (MPG-Spiegel 4/1973)


Birgit Kolboske explores the history of women and gender in the Max Planck Society. By combining political, historical, sociological, and legal perspectives she studies how gender relations have been implemented, perpetuated and protected within the generally intransparent networks and structures of the Max Planck Society—and how these have possibly changed over the course of the years. Based on the belief that the law—despite its alleged gender neutrality—has been instrumental in women's historical subordination she will approach gendered aspects in legal studies at the Max Planck Society. Has, for instance, its research in the field of jurisprudence been conducive to reforms in German family law and abortion law in the 1970s and 1980s? Likewise the impact of the traditionally domineering natural sciences within the Max Planck Society on the representation and career development of female scientists will be taken into consideration.