Interview with Women's representative of THI: "There are too few role models"

Bavarian universities have had women's representatives for 35 years. Since 2021, Prof. Dr. Michaela Regler has been fighting at THI for more female professors. In this interview, she reveals what has happened since the beginning and what still needs to be achieved.

Eine Frau hält eine Broschüre in der Hand

Mrs. Regler, at the THI, technical courses of study dominate, which are classically attributed more to men. What is the situation regarding the proportion of women at the university?

Michaela Regler: As of 30 June 2022, 31 of our 182 professorships are held by women. That is 17 percent. The number of female students is 30.5 percent. Compared to the numbers my predecessors had, I am satisfied. Especially in view of the fact that we are a university of technology. 20 years ago, the percentage of women was 7 percent. 125 years ago, women were not allowed to study at all in Germany. Everything takes time. In Bavaria, every fifth professorship is currently held by women.

Is there a need for a women's quota in science?

Michaela Regler: According to the Higher Education Innovation Act, 40 percent of all committees should be made up of women in the future. However, I see that some women do not take advantage of their opportunities. There are too few role models, there is simply a lack of visibility. Personally, I am the fourth generation to have studied law. But my son, for example, only has one female professor in criminal law in his law degree. There is probably another one in legal philosophy, but those are simply still the exotic ones.

What has already been done at the THI with regard to equality?

Michaela Regler: We have an incredible number of offers for girls, for example Girls Day, the Researchers' Camp or the Technology Day. At the open day, employees are allowed to bring their children. We also have a talent programme and organise fireside evenings where women can network and thus break down inhibitions. We have set up a nappy-changing room and parent-child office and offer childcare quota places. There is also the Respect app. Students who have had negative experiences or need support can use it to report anonymously and get help. By the way, since 1 January my job title is no longer Women's Representative, but Representative for Equality for women in Science and the Arts.

What prevents women from becoming professors?

Michaela Regler: In the public sector there are many fixed-term contracts, which certainly deters many women. With female professors it is a special case again, they need five years of professional experience and must have worked in science for five years. If they have already earned very well in the private sector, they are often more likely to opt for it. I see applications from women so rarely. It is very sad.

What do you actively do so that more women go into science anyway?

Michaela Regler: For example, there has been Bayernmentoring at the THI since the winter semester 2005/06. Tandems are formed, a female student is assigned a female academic with the same degree programme to help her network and attend joint events. Hochschule Bayern has also launched a campaign called "Werde Professorin!" to make the profession more visible in general. I find it incredibly nice to be a professor. It's great to combine it with having a child and a family and you have a lot of freedom. And working with the students keeps you young yourself.


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