women in science

“…it just means you´ve got excited about something.”

Beth Reeks was named on a list of the 16 most influential teenagers in the world by Time magazine in 2013. She is particularly known as author of the novels “The Kissing Booth” and “Rolling dice”, but despite her literary success, she is currently studying for a Physics degree at Exeter University and is predominantly interested in astrophysics and particle physics.

In this interview with Henry Lau from physics.org she talks about women and girls in physics and the impact of role models and social media.


Interview’s panic!

I am surely not an expert in giving courses about how to give the perfect interview but, since our Kick-Off meeting, I have realized that this is a hot topic among young scientists so let me share with you what my own experience is (on both sides of the table).
Normally an interview consists of two parts: your presentation and the interview itself.

Let me begin with the first part (and we will reserve a specific post for the second).

In the first part you are asked to give a small presentation about your research and achievements.
Depending on the position you are applying for, it might be good to also add some perspective or future projects you'd like to pursue in case you get the position.

Indelibly giving good talks is a prerequisite for any scientist. The better the talk you give the more invitation you'll get, the higher the stand of your projects (and of course of your CV).
Public speaking is HARD! The good news is, that there is a way to make it easier.
The bad news is: there is only ONE way, and that is: practice, practice, practice!

In my opinion the difference between an interesting presentation, a good presentation and a great presentation, (independently on the results you are presenting) is that in the first case you get people listening because they are interested in what you are presenting, in the second case your audience begins reading email (at conferences) or thinking about something else after 10 minutes and in the third you get their complete awareness until the end. After 1 min talk the person should say “I want to hear more”, after 5 min “I want to read about your work”, after 15 min “I wish I was doing what you are doing".

It did help me to study good speakers, what they do, why they are successful, look at their presentations
(at conferences or videos) and try to reproduce them. TED is a very good platform if you are looking out for

As a suggestion I always tell my students, they should tell their audience a story: "He who owns the
narrative rules the world" (D. Kruger)
I found a very nice presentation given at TED: it explains the idea that giving a talk is like making a journey


There are zillions of good links in the net (at the end of this contribution I pick only a couple of them) and you
can also find many opportunities to participate in seminars or courses, during which you are thaught by expert, how to do it best.

If you want to read more about this subject but you are flooded with the answers google might give a reply,
begin by checking these out ...

Save the date!

Network-meeting with Sibylle Günter, Scientific Director of the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Garching, on June 10, 2014 in the HIM-conference room, 00-315, Johann-Joachim-Becherweg 36 (Building SB I, opposite the nuclear physics) from 2:30 p.m. (coffee and tea from 2:15 p.m.).

The network-meeting is part of the IJCP-programm in the summer term 2014

Programm SoSe14

Are academic careers attractive for women?

Percentage of women among students, academic staff and professors/lecturers at the JGU Faculty of Physics, Mathematics and Computer Science in winter semester 2012/2013. Source: JGU (2013): Zahlenspiegel 2012. (URL:http://www.uni-mainz.de/universitaet/Dateien/JGU_zahlenspiegel_2012.pdf)


In discussions about the relative proportion of female students, research assistants and professors, you often hear the argument that the natural sciences alone are to blame for the decreasing percentage of women at increasing skill levels. When looking, however, in detail at the numbers, you find this trend throughout almost all faculties at JGU. Let’s search for clues then.

That at higher skill levels fewer women than men are encountered is due to a number of factors, according to Stefan Hirschauer, professor of Sociological Theory and Gender Studies at the University of Mainz: On the one hand, he explains the phenomenon with an ‘historical lag’; that is, it takes time until an increasing proportion of women among students and doctoral students is reflected at the higher skill levels. On the other hand, he reckons that discrimination has a role in procedures that in particular in heavily male-dominated areas, such as the STEM subjects, cannot be excluded. Moreover, there are career disadvantages in private life associated with value-driven migration processes. More specifically, the main obstacle is that women must succeed in a dual career, where the process of starting a family competes with the scientific career, which is everything but family-friendly. This competition may cause women to avoid scientific careers.
"If, for once, we consider women who leave the universities not as ’victims’ of discrimination, but take them seriously, then you have to interpret their migration to non-academic professional and career options as a well-informed statement on faculty jobs: highly competitive positions with built-in ‘workaholism’ are unattractive to people who cherish their work–life balance." (Hirschauer 2012*)

He sees the reason for the underrepresentation of women not in the organisational work structure but in private life. As a response, an effective equality policy should support a cultural change in couple relationships. In order to keep women in science, he feels that an improvement in time management is necessary, through the support for childcare and an increased availability of (full-time) day-care places. "Such a compensation of child-care expense during qualification phases addresses, on the one hand, the professional discrimination against women relative to men in private life and, on the other hand, the time disadvantages of parents relative to non-parents. [...] It is necessary to enhance the attractiveness of professional positions for highly educated people who deal more wisely with their work–life balance than many men do at the moment." (ibid*)

Following this call, and aiming to increase the compatibility between scientific career and family, an initiative is underway to offer support and improve the allocation of day-care places for PRISMA members:
If you are interested in day-care places, please write to prisma@uni-mainz.de, providing the child’s name and date of birth and as well as contact details (e-mail, phone number) for the parent(s).



Hirschauer, Stefan (2012) : Family Tenure statt "Kaskadenmodell" - Sexistische Nebenwirkungen universitärer Frauenförderung. (URL: http://www.academics.de/wissenschaft/nebenwirkungen_universitaerer_frauenfoerderung_53712.html)


* Translation: A. Trabesinger

Kick-Off 12.12.2013

Frauen in und im Forschungsumfeld von PRISMAKickoff-Veranstaltung

The Irène Joliot-Curie-Program has started with a Kick-Off-Event on Dezember 12th 2013.

Frauen in und im Forschungsumfeld von PRISMAKickoff-Veranstaltung



It was opened by Andrea Löther´s Keynote-Lecture „Why so slow? Geschlechterverhältnisse in der Wissenschaft und Handlungsmöglichkeiten an Hochschulen“ from the Center of Excellence Women and Science CEWS. Click here for the full presentation (in German): 13-12-12loether-prisma


The following World Café was characterized by constructive discussions and gainful exchange about the participant´s needs, requirements and requests in respectively for their career and prospective life-plan. Impressions following: Weiterlesen "Kick-Off 12.12.2013"

What’s the Secret to Success


Recently on Forbes, Regina Kunkle (responsible for the State and Local Higher Education Region of NetApp, part of the US Public Sector area) entrusts the readers her tips for a successful career in IT.

The title of the article "Follow your passion to a successful career" gives, in my opinion, the first fundamental advice for any career, in IT as well as in science.

Real passion is indeed the strongest resource we can take hold of: the gifts of passion are perseverance and self-confidence. Marie Curie once said "Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves.  We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained."

Once the fundament is settled, it may be useful to have some practical advices, to make life for our passion easier. Weiterlesen "What’s the Secret to Success"