Author: Karla Götz
News no.: 2017056

Informatica Feminale: Senator Praises “Culture of Encouragement”

Welcoming addresses came from Veronika Oechtering, Senator Professor Eva Quante-Brandt, and University President, Professor Bernd Scholz-Reiter (from left)

Words of praise from Bremen’s Senator for Science, Professor Eva Quante-Brandt, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Summer University: “The Informatica Feminale has been a successful project for women by women ever since its inception.” More than 50 participants, teaching faculty and co-founders came to the Mehrzweck building on the campus to celebrate two decades of this very special program of computer studies.

“Creating role models”

Quante-Brandt went on to say that the continuous success of the summer program is documented by the 200 people who take part every year. Choosing to study computer science creates role models for the STEM subjects. Far too few women are represented in the subject – in the whole of Germany just 20 percent of all students. As the Senator pointed out, “Ten years ago, only 10.7 percent of students enrolled in the subject at the University of Bremen were women. Today it has risen to 20 percent; but there is still plenty of room for improvement.” Quante-Brandt thanked the organizers and teaching faculty for creating such a “culture of activation and encouragement.” She, too, has an intense personal interest in finding ways to achieve more gender equity in the realm of science.

220 women from 12 countries

Casting a glance over the mainly female audience, the President of the University of Bremen, Professor Bernd Scholz-Reiter, had to admit: “Being in the company of this predominantly female gathering today brings home to me what women attending lectures on mechanical engineering must feel like.” This year, the event drew 220 women from 12 different countries to the campus. “At the University of Bremen, we are mindful of our responsibility towards society and we have always been supporters of gender equity”, he stressed. As a shining example, he referred to the University’s success in the Government-sponsored “Female Professor Program”. On average, 24 percent of professors at German universities are female; in Bremen it is now 29 percent. “We are extremely proud of Informatica Feminale, but at the same time we are fully aware there is still a long way to go”, he said.

Thanks to all supporters

At the center of the anniversary ceremony was one woman in particular: Veronika Oechtering, who is Scientific Director of the Competence Center Women in the Sciences and Engineering as well as co-founder of the Summer University. Following the words of praise spoken for her by the Senator and the University President, she went on to thank the other co-founders of Informatica Feminale. Mention of the name Hans-Jörg Kreowski drew special applause. Oechtering recalled how twenty years ago as spokesman for the Faculty of Mathematics/Computer Science he was a fervent supporter of the event. She also had praise for the indispensible support provided by student assistants, the team at the Competence Center, the Faculty and its technical and administrative staff, the room reservation office, the University’s Finance department, mailroom, and the doorkeeper. “Without whom we wouldn’t be able to get in at weekends.” Veronika Oechtering finished off with a particularly fitting birthday story. Hiba Oueslati, a participant from North Africa, was exactly the same age as the event being celebrated. “As a birthday present, her parents in Tunisia made a gift of the trip to Bremen so she could attend Informatica Feminale.”