The challenges of being a women in science

2020-05-18T06:34:25+00:00May 18th 2020|

Julia Reinhardt, Corinna Wehmeyer, Universität Münster

…from the perspective of a PhD student

Being a female scientist can definitely be a challenge from time to time. At university you often find more women than men majoring in biology. Looking outside university, you come to see that the higher you step up the career ladder less women are found among leading positions. You may wonder why and one reason might be that women often tend to underestimate themselves and do not bring themselves to the fore when it comes to career options and choices. Another reason might be that there are not enough female role models in science, even though it is more than inspiring to watch other women succeed in the scientific field. As a female doctoral student, I can happily say that I have only come across few challenges regarding the gender issue. At university, as well as during my current PhD time I have always been surrounded by more women than men working as scientists. Nevertheless, I am very aware that with the end of a PhD many women start to think about balancing their family life and their career. This, one could call it dilemma, still seems to be a more challenging aspect for women in science than men. But I do want to think that if you leave any expectations of society behind, get the right support and just try to do what is right for you, you do not necessarily have to choose between family life and career. I believe that there is always a way to manage both.

…from the perspective of a Postdoc

When I reflect my time as a PhD student gender differences and competition with my male colleagues were not an issue. We all had some kind of same worries: Shall I stay in academia or shall I leave and work in industry? Where do I find a job? Will I ever find a proper job? How can I reconcile work and family?

I finished my PhD 5 years ago and luckily most of my worries were unfounded. After my PhD I received a DFG research fellowship to work at the University of Birmingham/UK for two years. During my amazing time abroad I met a lot of people who inspired me and I developed promising new ideas to move on with my project back in Germany. The first step to scientific independence.

Despite successful parts in my career so far I also had some challenges and setbacks. Frustrating long lasting experiments, rejected papers and a rejected grant pushed me to the limit. Nevertheless I love working in science and the biggest challenge for me is now being a mum and a scientist. My little baby girl is 5 months old and my maternity leave ends in June this year. Balancing career and family will be tough but flexible working options at university and support of my husband will hopefully help me to reconcile both.

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