"My study visit to the US hugely influenced my life, both personally and academically," says Professor Jutta Allmendinger. It was thanks to a DAAD scholarship that the sociology graduate went to study at the University of Wisconsin in the mid-1980s and completed a graduate course in sociology, economics, and statistics. She later enrolled at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, where she completed her doctorate in social sciences in 1989. During this time she came across a noticeable number of women who teach at top US universities and raise children at the same time.
"You also see many couples working at the same institution in the States," explains Allmendinger. That's quite normal in America, she says. "The attitude over there certainly helped me realise that children and academic career do not necessarily rule each other out." Allmendinger herself managed both: her son Phillip Laudris was born in 1994.
The ability to learn how to learn must be stimulated and fostered.
– Jutta Allmendinger
Two years before she had been appointed professor of sociology at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU Munich). She took leave from there to pursue her work in Nuremberg. From February 2003 to the end of 2006, she headed the Institute for Labour Market and Career Research (IAB) there, which is part of the Federal Employment Agency. With her core research areas in the sociology of the labour market, educational sociology, social inequality, social policy, organisations and curricula vitae, she was very close to the political decision-making levels. Hartz IV and its consequences provided her institute with work as did the debates on demographic changes to society and to the German education system. Allmendinger was highly sceptical of the changes made to the education system and, for instance, called for young people not only to be prepared for one specific job and advocated the need for people to be fundamentally prepared for acquiring qualifications over a lifetime: "The ability to learn how to learn must be stimulated and fostered."
Allmendinger also expresses her opinions on education and research policy: 2004 saw her become a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, and in 2005 she was appointed to the University Council of the TU Darmstadt. She has been a member of the Scientific Commission of the German Science and Humanities Council since 2006 and a member of the Commission of Experts for Research and Innovation since 2007, a body appointed by the Federal Government. She is a member of the Academy of Sciences Leopoldina and has also been a member of the Foundation Council for the European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder) since 2008.
In February 2007, Jutta Allmendinger was appointed professor of educational sociology and labour market research at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. On 1 April 2007, a further challenge followed. She became the first woman to head Europe's largest social sciences research institutes, the Social Science Research Centre Berlin (WZB). Some 140 economists, political scientists, sociologists, historians and lawyers are doing research there, on topics such as labour market and employment policy, social inequality, democracy and civil society.