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Woman and profession

Competence Center Women and Career Bonn/Rhein-Sieg

The Competence Center Women and Career is a cooperation project of the economic development agencies of the city of Bonn and the Rhein-Sieg district. The mission of the Kompetenzzentren Frau und Beruf is to support small and medium-sized enterprises in times of demographic change and the need for skilled workers, to utilize and make visible the skilled worker and leadership potential of women, and to raise awareness of the issue of gender equality. 

For more than ten years, the Bonn/Rhine-Sieg Center of Excellence for Women and Career has been advocating family-friendly human resources policies, more women in management, and new recruitment channels to attract female professionals. This is supported by continuous lobbying and networking.

The competence center has been funded by the state since November 2022; previously it was funded by the ERDF and the state. After the expiry of the ERDF funding, the state of NRW took over the further funding of the competence centers. In its coalition agreement, the black-green state government anchored the continuation of the competence centers and thus also made clear how important the topic of equality is in sociopolitical terms.

Women in the labor market in NRW

Employment of women subject to social insurance contributions is rising continuously. Women are predominantly employed in commercial, social and medical occupations. On average, however, women are employed at a low demand level. In 2021, every second woman in NRW worked part-time. 

The compatibility of career and family is still largely seen as a female issue. This also partly explains the high proportion among women working part-time. This ensures poverty in old age in the long term and is seen as the biggest hurdle to career advancement. 90 percent of those returning to work are female and 92 percent of women registered as looking for work are single parents. (As of June 2023, compare  statistics from the Federal Employment Agency (opens in a new tab)). 

This shows the great potential of a family-friendly personnel policy on the labor market. In addition, these factors lead to a lower salary, the "gender pay gap". It is also striking that the proportion of women in technical/craft occupations is still very low in NRW. (As of the end of 2022,  IT-NRW/Statistics on the staffing of apprenticeship occupations (opens in a new tab)).

Family-conscious personnel policy

A good work-life balance is one of the decisive arguments on the labor market for finding and retaining skilled workers in the long term. However, small or medium-sized companies in particular often do not have their own HR department. Since 2013, the Kompetenzzentrum Frau und Beruf has been helping SMEs in the region to make their HR strategies more family-friendly, to communicate this to the outside world and to make them competitive in the labor market. With specialist presentations, workshops and online seminars, companies are informed about the various options for supporting the compatibility of work and family. The high numbers of participants in online formats and face-to-face events in particular showed how great the need is for information on all aspects of family-conscious HR policy. 

Here, the latest highlights were the cooperation event with the Bonn/Rhein-Sieg Chamber of Industry and Commerce on the topic of "Targeting tomorrow's female professionals with your own company website and social media activities". The cooperation event with the state initiative Vereinbarkeit Pflege und Beruf was also well received.


With over 90 member companies from a wide range of industries, it is one of the largest networks of the 15 Competence Centers Women and Work in NRW. Members meet four times a year to exchange ideas and receive innovative expert input on the various topics of family-conscious HR policy. Last year, the network celebrated its 30th network meeting. The focus was on the topic of "Resilience of employees", because employees who live a work-life balance need special protection from their employers. Other topics discussed at the network meetings included the General Equal Treatment Act (AGG) and part-time vocational training. After the admission process, the companies receive the logo "Member of the Network of Family-conscious Companies Bonn/Rhein-Sieg" and are given their own profile on the website of the Competence Center, with which details of the family-conscious personnel strategies applied are made clear.

Women in management positions

Women are significantly underrepresented in management and divisional management in (large) companies and in senior administrative positions. Compared to other EU member states, Germany is in the bottom third. In 2021, only around 29.41 percent of management positions in NRW were held by women, and just under one in three managers was female. 

This makes it clear: There is no shortage of qualified and well-trained women. In the Bonn/Rhein-Sieg region, for example, 53.56 percent of university graduates are female and 46.44 percent male (compare NRW Statistical Office 2021).

The reasons for the low proportion of women in management positions are varied and complex: The decisive factors are, in particular, the framework conditions for reconciling family and career, social role models and corporate culture. Gender equality is a joint task. Sustainable change can only be achieved through the joint efforts of politics, society and companies. But challenges such as digitization, globalization and the need for skilled workers also make a rethink necessary here. Equal participation of women in working life is essential if companies want to remain viable and competitive in the future.

With the one-year mentoring program "mentoring4women-Frauen in die Führung!" for small and medium-sized enterprises and with career workshops, the Competence Center has been supporting the professional development and promotion opportunities of working women since 2014. Small and medium-sized companies can benefit from mentoring by using it as a personnel development tool and promoting and securing skilled workers from their own ranks.

"Mentoring4women" has become a brand in the region. The program's supporters include the Bonn/Rhine-Sieg Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the Bonn/Rhine-Sieg District Chamber of Skilled Crafts and the Cologne Chamber of Skilled Crafts. The program is not offered annually; the last time it was possible to run the program was in 2020/2021.

The Digital Week for Skilled Workers of the Competence Centers Women and Career NRW

For the second time, the Competence Center participated in the Digital Professionals Week. With the workshop "Using job advertisements to attract female professionals", which was aimed at HR managers and business executives, the Competence Center demonstrated the special importance and design of job advertisements, which they play in attracting female professionals. The workshop was offered in cooperation with the Cologne Institute for the German Economy.

Further perspectives

The current funding phase for the Kompetenzzentrum Frau und Beruf project will end in November 2023. Both economic development agencies from the city of Bonn and the Rhein-Sieg district will again apply for follow-up funding from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia to advance the topic of professional equality in the region.

Translated with (free version)

Mrs. Filiz Karsligil
Projektleitung Kompetenzzentrum Frau und Beruf Bonn/Rhein-Sieg
Mrs. Christiana Krack