Institute News

International Day of Women and Girls in Science - February 11

The International Day of Women and Girls in Science was established by the United Nations in 2015. This day acknowledges the role and potential of women and girls in science and research and to inspire and encourage women to pursue careers in this field. Like in many other fields, women still remain underrepresented in leadership positions in neuroscience research, even though the numbers of women and men pursuing a PhD are similar. The Max Planck Society and we as Max Planck Institute for Neurobiology of Behavior are committed to promoting an inclusive research culture, offering everybody fair chances and support in balancing family and scientific career.

We asked some of our fantastic female researchers about their personal pathway into science and what tips and experiences they would like to share with women and girls in science.

Be inspired!

Carola Tröger, engineer in our Microscopy Core Facility and Gender Equality Officer

I already liked STEM subjects at school. I trained as a chemical lab technician and went on to study chemical engineering. I wanted to do research that combines technology and science. I would like to see more women in engineering and my tip is not to let yourself be dissuaded from your goal, even if you are sometimes underestimated. The course for a career in science is already set at school.

Marianne Roca, Postdoc in our Genetics of Behavior lab

I was always interested in biology; hence I choose the scientific path in French high school. I then went to my hometown university for a bachelor in biology and moved to Paris for a master in genetics (University Paris Diderot). I then pursued a PhD in the South of France, focusing on mitosis in a marine organism. I have since switched topics and am now a postdoc studying worm behavior in Germany. I never felt that being a woman was a disadvantage with everyone around me believing in me. So, my tip is not gender-related: See the others as your friends rather than your enemies, do not hesitate to help them, to ask for help and to share the step you found difficult (they probably did/do too).

Güniz Göze Eren, PhD student in our Genetics of Behavior lab

As a youngster, reading popular scientific articles piqued my interest in science and fueled it. Later on, choosing fundamental science as an undergraduate degree allowed me to surround myself with similar goal-oriented people, which was extremely beneficial in creating my future career in science.
Having a vision of what you want to be doing in 5-10 years will help you stay motivated in your current endeavor. Continue to picture yourself in the next 5-10 years as your vision evolves!

Kathrin Schulz, member of our Core Facility for Microscopy

I came to the MPINB, then known as the caesar research center, during my training as a chemical laboratory assistant. After some time in the clean room, I finally ended up in microscopy. Science is versatile, you always learn something new. That alone makes it worthwhile for women to take an interest in it. I would advise young women in science not to let it get them down. I would like to see science established in elementary school in order to inspire enthusiasm. In my opinion, science should have a stronger presence and be gender-unspecific. Unfortunately, I have found that female pupils in particular are at a disadvantage and that science is presented as something mainly for boys. This is where we should start to change things!

Anja Günther, Postdoc in our Department of Computational Neuroethology

Fascinated by birds and their diverse lifestyles, I began studying biology with no intention of becoming a scientist, merely seeking to learn more about these captivating creatures. Amidst my studies, I discovered my passion for the visual system of birds and its adaptation to different environments. If you are unsure about what you want to do just follow your curiosity; you might end up a scientist too.

Angelika Rüttgers, engineer in our Microscopy Core Facility

Mathematics and physics were my favorite subjects at school. That's why it was clear to me early on that I wanted to do something technical. I first did my A-levels in electrical engineering and physics and then went on to study physical engineering. In my experience, girls often have to assert themselves as the only girls in the MINT subjects and not allow this fact to get them down.

For further information please contact:

Carola Tröger
Engineer; Gender Equality Officer