By conferring the title “Bremen’s Woman of the Year” on Veronika Oechtering, the Committee on Women’s Rights wanted to pay tribute to “her pioneering spirit and the successful formats she has developed”, said the committee’s chairperson in her laudatory speech. Veronika Oechtering leads the Center of Excellence Women and Science at the University of Bremen, which has become well-known internationally in the area of further education for women engineers and especially the two Informatica Feminale summer universities it organizes. Every year, female students of computer science and IT come to the campus from all over Germany and other countries to network and hone their specialist skills. Through promoting gender-equitable learning conditions for schoolgirls and young women, the 57-year-old, who studied computer science and chemical engineering at RWTH Aachen, does a lot to interest them in studying science and technology. She makes a major contribution, for instance, to the activities on Girls’ Day and also organizes classroom events on “creative robotics” together with schools in Bremen.
Deputy Central Women’s Representative at the University of Bremen, Veronika Oechtering also has experience of gender equality activities on a national level. From 1997 to 2002 she was deputy spokesperson for the expert commission “Women in the Information Society”, hosted by the Federal Government; and from 2005 to 2008 she was a member of the expert advisory panel of the association for “Technology, Diversity, Equal Opportunity” in Bielefeld. In 2007 she was made a fellow of German Society for Computer Science.
“At the University of Bremen, a large number of women are active in the field of Computer Science and occupy high-level positions.” However, she points out that the situation in other parts of Germany is quite different. For example, of the 1,021 professors of Computer Science at German universities, only 110 are women, which amounts to just 10.77 percent. “It makes me sad, not to say even angry, that this is still the case after 30 years of promoting equal opportunity for women in the field”, says Veronika Oechtering. She is therefore committed to ensuring that equal opportunity remains a “headline topic”. We mustn’t tire of convincing young women to actively guard their interests. “If we’re not careful, we’ll lose what we’ve accomplished so far”, she says. She will certainly remain a proactive figure in the cause.