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Inauguration Lecture | "Diffusion of Policy Ideas on Gender and Diversity Change in Academic Institutions" by Kathrin Zippel

Dec 01, 2022 | 05:30 PM - 08:00 PM

Prof. Kathrin Zippel, Ph.D. has been Einstein Professor of Sociology with a focus on Gender Studies at the Institute of Sociology of Freie Universität Berlin and a member of the Cluster of Excellence SCRIPTS since 2022. Her public inaugural lecture will take place as part of the lecture series "Diversität und Exzellenz – Ein Spannungsverhältnis?!" of the Berlin University Alliance.

About the Event

The most acceptable justification for inequality in the liberal script of societies is meritocracy, the idea that people get success, status, power, or rewards because of what they achieve rather than their wealth or social position. Thus, meritocracy depends on fair judgments of the quality of work and qualifications. Implicit bias presents a stunningly popular theory to explain how people can act based on prejudice and stereotypes about social groups without intending to do so, thus problematizing our ability to measure excellence fairly. To improve the quality of evaluations of others in academia and in industry, diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts often discuss implicit bias in their training programs. This talk addresses what is it about implicit bias that explains its widespread use and exceptional academic and public trajectory. Kathrin Zippel uses the case of implicit bias theory to suggest specific features of ideas that help move them into public conversation and practical use. She also asks what consequences arise from addressing diversity and inequality primarily through the lens of implicit bias. What does such an approach to evaluation and selection leave out, and what does it say about meritocracy overall? She concludes with some thoughts about her current research questions and future research agenda.

Hosted by Berlin University Alliance in cooperation with the Institute of Sociology at Freie Universität Berlin, Einstein Foundation Berlin and SCRIPTS.

Language: English
Livestream: See media player above


  • Moderation and Welcome Address by Prof. Robin Celikates, Professor of Social Philosophy at the Freie Universität and member of the Steering Committee for Diversity and Gender Equality Berlin University Alliance.
  • Welcome address by Armaghan Naghipour, State Secretary for Science, Research and Equality of the State of Berlin
  • Welcome address by Prof. Dr. Günter M. Ziegler, president of Freie Universität Berlin
  • Welcome address by Prof. Dr. Joachim Trebbe, Dean of the Department of Political and Social Sciences, Freie Universität Berlin
  • Welcome address by Prof. Dr. Christian von Scheve, Head of the Institute for Sociology, Freie Universität Berlin
  • Lecture by Prof. Kathrin Zippel, Ph.D.
  • Reception afterwards


Prof. Kathrin Susanne Zippel, Ph.D. is Einstein Professor of Sociology with a focus on Gender Studies at the Institute of Sociology at Freie Universität Berlin and a member of the Cluster of Excellence SCRIPTS. After her Vordiplom in Mathematics and Political Science at the University of Hamburg, she received a Master's degree in Sociology from The Ohio State University. She then earned a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Sociology with a certificate in Women’s Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She held a Postdoctoral Fellow at the European Union Center of New York at Columbia University. Since 2001, Kathrin Zippel was professor at Northeastern University; in addition, she was visiting assistant professor in the Social Studies Program at Harvard University and taught in the Consortium for Graduate Studies in Gender, Culture, Women, and Sexuality at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She also served as co-chair of the Seminar on Social Exclusion and Inclusion at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard University and was a residential fellow in the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard Kennedy School. In 2007, she received the Victoria Schuck Award for the best book on women and politics from the American Political Science Association. In 2019, she was awarded the prestigious Alumni Award for Innovative Networking Initiatives from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. She uses institutional, comparative research approaches and her interests include gender equity and diversity measures as well as gender aspects of global transformations in science and higher education.

Attending the Event

The lecture series is open to all, no registration is necessary.

Accessibility: All rooms in the Henry Ford Building are barrier-free. The lecture hall A has wheelchair spaces (rear, centre).

About the Lecture Series

The lecture series "Diversity and Excellence - A Tense Relationship?!" (in German: „Diversität und Exzellenz – Ein Spannungsverhältnis?!“) is hosted by the Berlin University Alliance.

Although diversity policy has become one of the core elements of organisational development in German higher education in recent years, there are still many tensions in the implementation of diversity measures that are based on a non-inclusive view of excellence. In many cases, discrimination is not addressed by diversity measures, but rather covered up by them, so that ultimately exclusionary structures in higher education remain unchanged. This lecture series is dedicated to this tension and how a diversification of the university can be possible and which questions need to be addressed. The lecture series is organised by the Diversity and Gender Equality Network (DiGENet) of the Cross-Cutting-Themes Diversity and Gender Equality of the Berlin University Alliance (BUA). The lectures will critically examine the tension between diversity and excellence from different (inter-) disciplinary perspectives.

All lectures can be retrieved here.

Time & Location

Dec 01, 2022 | 05:30 PM - 08:00 PM

Henry-Ford-Bau, Hörsaal A
Freie Universität Berlin
Garystraße 35, 14195 Berlin