Why did you seize the initiative to improve the situation of women in the natural sciences? Which of your personal qualifications, characteristics and skills were decisive for this step?

I’m one of those people that are always being cited and mobilized globally as a role model in this area. When I look at other successful women, I see strong personalities with well-above-average abilities and exceptional, frustration-proof tenacity. In many cases, they were also fortunate enough to marry men who take equally responsibility for parenting. If we were to apply these criteria – strong personality, above-average abilities, etc. – for male professors, then we’d have fewer male professors too. That means we’re currently only using a subgroup of the female talent pool, which we could significantly enrich if the framework were made more favorable.
Interestingly, most women in positions similar to mine are well informed about these issues. That’s because they’ve also realized that something’s not quite right, and they’ve developed this awareness. By reading the literature, they can see that it’s not just them: that helps you not to take personally remarks like “not nice enough”, “too aggressive” or “too assertive”, and to distance yourself. The survivors I mentioned earlier either have this ability or are fighters who just “stick to it”.
Why did I personally seize the initiative? That’s doubtless a result of my personal experience, my determination to improve the situation for the next generation of women, and the fact that in my role as Director of NCCR MUST I also had an explicit mandate and was given the necessary personnel resources to do so.
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