College graduates serve as role models for female academic careers

Spring 2020: The Corona pandemic has paralyzed the world and created an unprecedented challenge. The situation has prompted political decisions that raise the question of how far fundamental rights restrictions can go in Germany. As an expert, junior professor Dr. Anika Klafki comments on the legal basis in an interview with Tagesschau (Germany’s leading news program). This interview stems from her assessment of the new Infection Protection Act from this past fall.

January 2021: The U.S. election has produced a clear winner, but President Donald Trump, still in office, refuses to acknowledge his defeat. What follows is the storming of the Capitol and the call for impeachment. University professor Dr. Paulina Starski, who just a few months earlier analyzed the legal consequences of the U.S. election for the Tagesschau, once again appears as an expert on the public broadcasting station and explains the prospects for success shortly before the transfer of power.

Paulina Starski (class of 2001) and Anika Klafki (class of 2005) are Bucerius Law School alumnae who have recently been appointed to chairs in German speaking countries. They are outstanding examples of the excellent young scholars that Bucerius Law School produces. They are also pioneers on another front: the number of female scholars and professors continues to increase.


After their basic legal training, both Starski and Klafki pursued their research careers as research assistants and later academic assistants at the university's chairs. Paulina Starski is now a university professor of public law and global governance at the University of Graz in Austria, as well as a deputy chair at the Institute for Public Law - European and International Law at the Albert Ludwigs University in Freiburg. Anika Klafki holds a junior professorship (tenure track) in public law at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena and is a sought after interview partner due to her research focus on the legal handling of pandemics.

"I am very pleased that with Paulina Starski and Anika Klafki, two alumnae are so successfully making their way in academia and gaining recognition in the media," said Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Katharina Boele-Woelki, President of Bucerius Law School. "You are not only setting an example for the quality of education at our institution but also, and this is very important to me personally, for females in academia. You are setting an example and paving the way for those to come."

Gabriele Buchholtz (class of 2006) and Friederike Malorny (class of 2008) are also Bucerius graduates with successful careers as young academics. Both received their doctorates from Bucerius Law School and are active in teaching and research. While Gabriele Buchholtz has held the junior professorship (tenure track) "The Law of Social Security with a Focus on Digitization and Migration" at the University of Hamburg for a few months, Friederike Malorny, a postdoctoral fellow under Professor Dr. Matthias Jacobs, recently received an appointment as a junior professor with tenure track at the University of Münster and plans to devote herself to civil and labor law.


On the subject of women in academia, Paulina Starski says: "An academic career is, to put it bluntly, very challenging and also a great privilege for those who make it. It requires a lot of perseverance and strength to endure the uncertainties regarding the future career and the possible 'jump into academia'. Often, for us women, starting a family coincides with the habilitation phase and demands precise time management of an already scarce resource. Taken together, these phases can have a deterrent effect for many women," according to her personal experience regarding the under representation of female scientists.

What a strong effect it therefore has for a more feminine academic world when a woman stands in front of students and gender equality is being lived out in legal cases being studied. This is something Paulina Starski experiences every day in her courses. "The evaluations show that, as an approachable professor and a woman with a family who is passionate about her profession, I have a significant impact on female students. It's not uncommon for me to read comments saying that this encourages future female graduates to take the plunge into academia."


Lena Johannes, Arne Lemke, translated by David Patrician