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PROMICON Women In Science presents: Katja Bühler

6 March 2024
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PROMICON’s new social media campaign #WomenInScience aims to portray the excitement and the difficulties that come with being a female scientist, shedding more light on this career path. Each week, we will tell the stories of the women behind PROMICON and this week we are presenting you Katja Bühler from Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ

What initially sparked your interest in science?  

I was always interested in nature and fascinated by the way macro- and microcosm are functioning and interacting. Thus I knew very early that I wanted to study biology.

What are some common misconceptions about being a female scientist that you've encountered in your career?

Personally, I was lucky not to encounter any obvious misconceptions in this context. Anyhow, I feel like women, especially women with children or family members in need of care have to achieve a lot more than men to make a (scientific) career, as family duties are still mainly on their shoulders. On the one side, I think we need more funds to establish family friendly structures in science. But it is also necessary to change evaluation parameters for scientists, which are currently only possible to achieve if one works for many hours per week.

How do you feel about the representation of women in PROMICON?

I feel we have a good representation of men and women in the project. I am no friend of quota and fixed gender numbers. Is it much different from other projects? Not really.

What actions would you recommend to EU policymakers to enhance gender equality in European-funded projects?

As stated above fixed quota is – at least in my opinion – not the way to go, but one should take special efforts to recruit women if they are qualified. I would welcome special funds for family scientists (not only for mothers but also for fathers), helping e.g. with childcare or with other family members in need of care during meetings or conferences.

Which female scientist do you look up to the most and why?  

To be honest I never had any female scientist role model. I find Marie Skłodowska Curie a very fascinating character, but “met” her rather late in my career.

What advice would you give to young women considering a career in science nowadays?

Networking, networking, networking….

Katja Bühler | Photo credit: UFZ