The International Day of Women and Girls in Science is celebrated on the 11th of February and is implemented by UNESCO and UN Women, in collaboration with intergovernmental agencies and institutions, as well as civil society partners, that aim to promote women and girls in science.
The day's purpose is to promote full and equal access to participation in science for women and girls and to recognize the critical role of women and girls in research & innovation - a mission which is fully reflected in the philosophy of the Entrepreneurial School® from the very beginning, which is committed to diversity, variety, openness and tolerance for all groups of people involved in all academic disciplines.
We wanted to know from some female MCI researchers* what excites them about their research field, what challenges they face, and what their recommendations are in terms of gender balance.
In addition, female MCI students* share their enthusiasm for their studies in scientific and technical fields.
* random selection from various research areas and study programs at MCI.
UAS Prof. Dr. techn. Angela HofmannProfessor at the MCI Department of Environmental, Process & Energy EngineeringHead of MCI Josef Ressel Centre for the Production of Powdered Activated Carbon from Municipal Residues
"For me it is not a question of whether a scientific discipline is dominated by men or women, the only thing that drives me is the interest in the subject. In my opinion, it should not be manifested in gender but in character whether someone can generate interest and passion for a topic. It is still considered something special to work as a woman in technology and I personally even welcome that a little bit.
There, I deal with the use of renewable energy sources and the technical solutions on how to integrate them into a sustainable energy system. What is particularly exciting for me is that I can pursue my passions of science and technology and try to integrate the technical solutions in a very complex field of tension between economy, ecology and society.
I see my greatest challenge in motivating young people to be enthusiastic about a subject for a longer period of time and to commit themselves fully to a subject. Unfortunately, I observe far too often that young people get lost in the multitude of opportunities available to them today. Science is lacking in young talent - but certainly not in exciting topics!
To be honest, I find it less relevant whether or not there are more women working specifically in STEM disciplines; I would hope that the women who can develop a passion for technology do not allow themselves to be limited or restricted from the start. Basically, anything is possible - in the end, everyone has to prove themselves anyway, regardless of gender.”
UAS Prof. Dr. Teresa SpießProfessor for Organizational Psychology & Change Management at the MCI Department Management, Communication & IT
"The fact that the IT field is considered rather male-dominated was never an issue for me in my career choice or planning. I have been fortunate to have never felt excluded from topics because of my gender, both in my personal life and in my education. I see these experiences as the foundation for trusting myself to follow my path against the backdrop of my interests.
The connection between technology and people has always interested me. Currently, I am more intensively involved with the technological change in the work environment and its impact on people and organizations. Technology changes much faster than the people who use it. I believe that in our modern world, much more emphasis on human skills and behaviors is necessary again. Without a complex understanding of people and social systems, change cannot be shaped successfully and sustainably.
In my view, women face the great challenge of combining family and career in many areas and jobs, provided they aspire to both. Fortunately, I hardly feel the associated structural deficits in the economy and society. As a mother of a small child, I find very supportive conditions both in my family and from my employer. However, I think that in the long term, without major changes such as the strong expansion and upgrading of qualified childcare options, equality will not be fully achieved.
In general, I believe that young people need encouragement for their talents at a very early age, far from any gender stereotypes. This is an issue that originates in families and in kindergartens and schools. Role models, if you will, also play a central role in this regard. I believe that in times of social media and YouTube, etc., there are many more opportunities for gaining insight into the realities of exciting people lives or interesting careers than there were when I was young. Still, one must be confident and, of course, have the opportunities to follow one's own interests and talents."
Theresa Mitterer-Leitner, MALecturer and Research Associate at MCI Department Tourism & Leisure Management
"In my research I mainly focus on alpine tourism, in particular tourism & agriculture and space-related topics. For me, the great thing about research is being able to analyze relevant issues independently and to work out solutions - in exchange with many highly interesting people.
With my field of research, I am not only operating in academia, but also have to deal with politics and practice. Although I am usually shown the same respect as male colleagues, there are some exceptions, which certainly require steadfastness and self-confidence. Basically, I would like to see discussions that are more fact- and solution-oriented than power-oriented, which I believe is common among male colleagues.
When I consider the changes that the women's movement has brought about in recent decades, I feel deep gratitude. Our generation must not take these achievements for granted and must stand up for gender justice on the backs of its predecessors. In my view, this requires continued work on structures making family and career compatible - equally for men and women - more security for women, knowledge transfer for financial issues and a conscious processing of outdated women's images.
I also don't consider it esoteric to address the relevance of a balanced mix of male and female energy for our society. A fundamental approach that favors cycles of alternating creation and regeneration over linear growth, and that prioritizes collaboration over individual striving for power, would bring urgently needed new perspectives to the world of work, politics, and the use of natural resources. I would like to see a greater awareness of "female energy" and that women, who naturally carry this more strongly within themselves, do not have to suppress themselves in order to be professionally successful. This also requires greater cohesiveness among women.”
Mag. Christiane Aufschnaiter, Bakk. phil.Lecturer at the MCI Department of Business Administration Online
"Already during my studies I was fascinated by academia - I liked to deal intensively with questions, to research and to discover new things. After working in the private sector, I decided to pursue a career in academic research at the MCI. The academic world with its cornerstones of research and teaching appeals to me because I learn something new for myself every day and I can pass on this knowledge to others.
In my dissertation in the field of Consumer Culture Theory, I am dealing with consumption phenomena from a socio-cultural perspective, researching in projects what role materiality still has for consumers in the digital age. I particularly enjoy the research methods: on the one hand, I conduct interviews with consumers, on the other hand, I observe and analyze their social media communication and thus gain completely new insights.
One of the biggest challenges in science - regardless of gender - is that you need stamina, especially as an early career academic. I am very lucky that I can do a lot of research together with a female dissertation colleague - that moves us forward in terms of content and is enormous fun.
From my point of view, two aspects are essential in science: that more research is conducted about women and by women, no matter what discipline it is. This is important to highlight and improve the realities of women's lives. I would like to see female scientists not being overshadowed by their male colleagues, but being deliberately pointed out as role models to get more young women interested in this career path."
UAS Prof. PD MMag. Dr. habil. Anita ZehrerHead of MCI Research Center for Family Business
"I have always been fascinated by science and the further development of research. Gaining new insights and then carrying them into teaching, where I can pass on my knowledge to young people, accompany them and participate in their development, drives me. The international network created through research is also an absolute asset.
My research topics have changed and developed over time. At present, I am primarily concerned with the special features and major challenges of family-run companies. These include issues such as business succession, questions about the next generation's intentions to take over, strategic employee management and retention, questions about the sustainability and longevity of family businesses, strategic positioning, and, most recently, resilience issues.
In my academic career, I have already taken on many career stations at the academic institution and have thus been able to take on different roles. In other words, career paths definitely exist. I have always been able to assert myself well in the male domain through commitment, independence and self-responsibility. This self-determined work has given me creative freedom, which has always been particularly motivating for me.
From my point of view, of course, the glass ceiling is often still a harsh reality in everyday research. Many young female scientists start a family during their time as postdocs and take a step back professionally. What is required here, above all, is science policy and funding programs that incorporate gender equality into the application process. Most universities want to reduce the disadvantage of women in research and teaching with an equal opportunities concept, and this has been successful to a large extent. I personally am available to young female researchers as a mentor and role model and thereby try to contribute to the self-efficacy of young female scientists."
Dr. Claudia ZollerLecturer & Senior Researcher at MCI Center for Social & Health Innovation(Research focus: Behavioral Economics).
"I really enjoy working in research. You can be curious and learn a lot of new things with every paper, research project, and especially in the exchange with colleagues. That makes for a lot of variety and also means that you are always faced with new challenges to overcome.
I mainly do research on decision-making behavior in health and social care. One of the things we're trying to understand is how to support people in making healthier choices (e.g., eating healthier, exercising more). Especially when it comes to healthy behaviors, we face some cognitive biases. These can be learned to overcome, for example, through targeted nudges and similar behavioral economic tools. There are some exciting studies on this topic showing how we can learn to better control our behavior using small tools.
Women continue to be underrepresented in senior positions in many areas of research. There are studies showing how important it is for the next generation to have women in the role of experts as role models. So I hope we can lead by example here and close the gender gap in science in the future."