Current studies show: Women are still underrepresented in so-called STEM professions. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Numerous initiatives aim to attract more women to such professions. With initial success: According to data from the German Federal Statistical Office, the number of first-semester female STEM students has again increased slightly - from 116,840 in 2018 to 119,134 in 2019. Female employees at Heraeus also harbor a great passion for sciences. What motivated them to take up a STEM profession? Five of them told us:
What fascinates women at Heraeus about STEM professions
Behind every innovation from Heraeus are bright minds who are passionate about STEM subjects such as mathematics, computer science, chemistry or physics. Women are in no way inferior to men here. Five female Heraeus employees introduce themselves and explain what motivated them to take up a scientific profession.
Physics, chemistry and mathematics inspire Heraeus female employees
Dr. Ilka Verena Luck, Head of Heraeus startup Performance Coatings
"As a schoolgirl, I wanted to be an astronaut. And the only Germans who flew at that time were physicists. I admired them very much. However, I discarded the career aspiration to become an astronaut, because someone like me, who doesn't even dare to go on the most harmless merry-go-rounds at the carnival, would be in the worst possible position in an astronaut training program. However, I stuck with physics. Fortunately, the training was based on technical understanding and logical thinking. I was also able to put these learned skills to good use in my later activities in the fields of product development, business development and start-up founding. “
Dr. Ilka Verena Luck, Head of the Heraeus Startup Performance Coatings and responsible for the growth strategy of the business, the orientation of R&D activities, the expansion of production and, last but not least, for the concerns of her team.
Annette Lukas, Business Development at Heraeus Precious Metals
"My favorite subject at school and in my studies has always been mathematics. I could not imagine mathematics as a profession. So I discovered chemistry for myself, which has a lot to offer in terms of practical relevance, experimentation and a wide range of applications with ever-increasing future requirements. I would always choose chemistry as an education again because I find it great and fascinating to understand materials, techniques, and general objects of life from the ground up. “
Annette Lukas, who studied chemistry and industrial engineering, has been with Heraeus for over 24 years and has held various technical management positions. She currently works in Business Development at Heraeus Precious Metals.
Li-san Chan, Head of the Semiconductor Advanced Packaging market segment at Heraeus Electronics
"As a child, my favorite place was the Science Center, where I could explore the mysteries of science. I was fascinated by the growth of shiny crystals, building Jacob's ladders with high voltage, and colorful fireworks created by metal salts. I still vividly remember the startup sounds of my first PC in 1986. After taking chemistry, physics, math and economics in junior college, I realized that a solid foundation in materials engineering offered more flexibility in career choices. Options included microelectronics, oil and gas industries. The numbers and systematic, logical thinking are also applicable to careers in finance and banking. Fortunately, my first job landed me at a top semiconductor processing equipment company, where I started the journey towards perfection in miniaturization of semiconductors “
Li-san Chan, Head of the Semiconductor Advanced Packaging market segment at Heraeus Electronics (HET). Li-san manages, designs and controls the global product portfolio in this area.
Dr. Dr. Larisa Riewel, Head of Computer Aided Engineering (CAE)
"Physics gave me the freedom from childhood to discover and grasp nature mentally and emotionally. The passion for mathematics came later, because without mathematics it is impossible to adequately convey the beauty of the laws of nature. Additionally, I lived in a dictatorship as a child. In a totalitarian system, many things are forbidden, but not scientific thinking and the laws of nature. Physics and its philosophy helped me a lot to keep my free mind. Mrs. Merkel recently summed up this feeling for me appropriately: 'I decided to study physics in the GDR because you can overrule many things, but not facts.'"
Dr. Dr. Larisa Riewel, Head of Computer Aided Engineering (CAE). As a mathematician with a PhD and theoretical physicist, she is involved in the coordination and implementation of complex research and development projects in the field of UV technology and infrared heat for industrial and analytical processes.
Michelle Moor, Analytical Services/Quality Supervisor at Heraeus Precious Metals
"I believe girls should be encouraged to explore STEM subjects at an early age. We need to renew old ways of thinking, rethink gender stereotypes and stop tying them to specific school subjects or professions. After all, boys and girls are almost identical in terms of their STEM skills. It would be a waste for girls with real potential to choose not to pursue STEM careers simply because of a lack of encouragement and guidance at an early age. I myself would have liked a mentor at that age. That's one of the reasons I became a high school chemistry teacher. Some of my brightest students were girls, and it was very rewarding to offer them encouragement. I ended my teaching career to enter the corporate sector; I always wanted to be part of something bigger. I like the daily challenges of and working at a global level; my degree in science makes this possible.”
Michelle Moor, a former high school chemistry teacher at Claiborne High School in Tazewell, Tennessee (USA), now works as Analytical Services/Quality Supervisor at Heraeus Precious Metals in Wartburg.