On the occasion of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on February 11th we would like to give you a glimpse behind the scences of our company. Magdalena Klimm graduated from the University of Augsburg in 2019 with a degree in computer science and has been working for us as a Software Quality Assurance Engineer since November last year.
How did your interest in natural sciences develop?
My dad is a physicist, he was working at the university when I was a child. He got me interested in the natural sciences. Shortly before I went to high school, he started working as a teacher for physics, math and computer science. At school, I chose the natural sciences branch and had my first contact with computer science in the lower and middle school.
"I went to a girls' school and was one of the few beeing interested in computer science."
After graduation, I decided to study computer science. I think I also came to this decision partly because of my dad. He is a "do-it-yourselfer" and also tinkers around a lot at home and has, for example, built and programmed hardware and software for the control of the wood boiler himself. He often told me that if you do something yourself, you know how it works and can modify it more easily or find problems more quickly. This way you can come to the perfect solution and have a result that exactly matches your own ideas. With many finished products (hardware/software) there are predefined functionalities and sometimes this is not enough, because you need very specific functionalities for the special application. Finding a solution beeing the „perfect match“ has always been my motivation.
But also the small computer science part I had at school made me want to do more. At the beginning I started computer science with a minor in physics, because I found this combination very exciting. Later, I switched to computer science and multimedia, which was also an interesting field.
What was your experience like during your studies? Is the proportion of women and men actually the same in computer science?
In the beginning, I think we had about 10 percent women in computer science at the university. That was in 2013. But by the time I finish my studies in 2019, it has constantly increased, especially in the first years. That's definitely a good development. For me, though, it was never an issue. Because I always had the feeling that performance counts and it doesn't matter what gender I am. It was also never a problem for me, either at university or at work, to work with men in particular. For me, it doesn't matter.
Were there female "role models" in your environment - family, school, or in your studies?
No, there were none. Neither in the family environment, nor at university a particular female professor. Women in top positions are often still a rarity there. My interest was influenced more by male role models, like my father.
Tell us about interesting aspects in your Computer Science studies. What projects did you work on?
One project was the design of a small greenhouse that irrigates itself automatically. It was controlled by an Arduino, which regularly asked for the values of soil moisture sensors. At a certain value, solenoid valves were opened so that water could flow from a canister into the soil, and then closed again after a certain time so that it wouldn't be overwatered. Based on this, I developed a simple simulation model of the greenhouse in my bachelor thesis and used it to make predictions about when the water canister was expected to be empty. Many factors play a role in this. It is exciting to map such a simulation in a model and to experience the practical use of computer science.
For sure most of your work time is in front of the computer. What do you like to do in your free time?
Thinking about my hobbies, I guess I'm also not a "typical" woman. I love music and play guitar, electric bass, and drums. I also find relaxation in forest work – I like to work with my hands in my free time!
Do you still see difficulties for you as a woman in certain subject areas? Are you confronted with prejudices among colleagues / customers?
No, not at all. Personally, I don't worry at all not to be taken seriously because I am a woman in the technical field of computer science. It's not a gender issue, there are also men who don't know anything about technical fields. And increasingly there are women who can distinguish themselves as real experts in science.
What advice can you give to girls or young women who are interested in studying a subject in natural science?
One should not be intimidated and go according to one's interest and thus decide in which direction to go in education. In no case should you listen to doubters who try to persuade you that this is not a study for a woman. A female car mechanic or a female computer scientist - will become just as normal as a male kindergarten teacher or a male beautician.
"I have a good feeling that things are moving in the right direction."
Did you experience some funny things in your work life as a women working in a technical department?
I have the feeling that I am taken seriously for my work. It doesn't matter that I'm a woman. I can also just smile about some things and not feel discriminated against right away. The other day at a meeting in development, a colleague said "the guys from QA" will take care of an issue. I still felt addressed and didn't find it unpleasant. Such a saying is no reason for me to feel bad, I felt as a team member just as addressed. But I noticed it anyway. That is also an important aspect: to understand that it is completely normal for us as women to make our contribution in all areas, including technical professions.
Perhaps this has inspired you – we’d be happy to receive all applications (m/f/d) – Check out our current vacancies here.