The future of foundations is female

Katja Wagner and Anke Pätsch

Even if the steps that German foundations are taking towards gender equity are cautious, they are carrying the sector in the right direction

Inspired by the work of international foundations, in 2017 the Association of German Foundations (BDS) launched an additional group, Gender and Diversity. This was to supplement its existing thematic network, Women and Foundations, and begin the strategic integration of gender justice in the German foundation sector. The group is growing and has attracted partners such as the new initiative Fair Share of Women Leaders, Open Society Foundations, PHINEO and Wider Sense.

At the group’s first meeting, one consultant said: ‘The future of foundations is female.’ In some respects, so is the present. Women make up at least 70 per cent of the civil society workforce. More women set up or co-found foundations than they did 15 years ago. In some respects... but not in all, as we will see below.

Foundations can consider gender equity in all their support and project activities… but in practice, this so-called ‘gender mainstreaming’ rarely takes place.

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