Dresden, Germany | 14 October 2022 | ZEISS Group
The twelfth ZEISS Women Award was presented in Dresden yesterday. This prize honors outstanding female graduands in the digital and IT sectors. The award open for applications across Germany and allows successful young female computer scientists to be publicly recognized and encourages more women to pursue a career in the IT industry. The award winners are high-achieving young female computer scientists who engage with social issues alongside their studies and have personalities that make them ideal role.
First place went to Meike Nauta. A doctoral student at the University of Twente, the Netherlands and at the Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Medicine's University Hospital in Essen, Germany. She organizes workshops at schools on a voluntary basis as an "ambassador for women in STEM professions" among other things. The runner-up is Lisa Ihde. She is completing a master's degree in IT Systems Engineering at the Digital Engineering Faculty of the University of Potsdam and the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam, where she also works as an Equal Opportunities Officer. Third place went to Thuy Linh Jenny Phan from Chemnitz. She studies Business Informatics at the University of Applied Sciences Dresden on the master's program, volunteers as a welcome tutor for student services in Dresden and represents the student community on various boards there. A special prize was also awarded to Kristin Freudenberg, who is studying for a master's degree in IT from Zittau Görlitz University of Applied Sciences. The mother of two children under four impressed the judges with her exceptional determination.
"Promoting role models and collaboration in diverse teams are two very central pillars in our corporate culture. "The ZEISS Women Award is an important medium for drawing attention to talented women in computer science, thus creating role models for the next generation. With events like these as well as other activities to promote STEM, we at ZEISS want to do our part to spark children's and young people's curiosity in the STEM subjects," says Georg von Erffa, Head of ZEIS Corporate Human Resources at ZEISS.
The ZEISS Women Award is ZEISS' way of focusing on the diverse career opportunities available for women working in the digital and IT sectors. Their knowledge and skills are urgently sought after in almost all sectors. Currently, the proportion of women employed by the global tech company (ZEISS) is between 30 and 35 percent, depending on the country. This reflects the general trend among female STEM graduates. ZEISS has therefore set itself the goal of promoting women in the company by operating an organized, family-friendly personnel policy. It aims to do this externally as well by cooperating with universities to ensure that more girls and women are encouraged to take an interest in STEM professions and thus also in IT.
The ZEISS Women Award prize was up for grabs by women across Germany. Women studying IT, business informatics or a similar degree program were eligible to apply, regardless as to whether they are working on their bachelor's, master's, Diplom or doctoral thesis. To qualify, the students needed to have very good grades (German grade average of 2.0) and either be working on their thesis or have just completed it. The female students' commitment to society and their local community such as via membership of a club or their educational institution, was also part of the assessment.
A total of 44 young women from 35 different universities and institutes and 34 German cities applied. Many of them came to Germany to study, overall nine different countries of origin were indicated in the applications.
"The choice of very good applications was impressive and did not make it easy for us as a jury to rank the winners," explains Cornelia Jahnel on behalf of the jury members. "In the end, it was the strong and successful commitment to both studies in IT and social or community honorary positions which persuaded us. With their excellent academic results, all the young women who applied for the ZEISS Women Award are outstanding role models for STEM career choices and deserve recognition and visibility. We are delighted about by the diversity and complexity of the academic projects which reflect a broad spectrum of socially relevant IT solutions."
The jury was particularly impressed by the young women's involvement in diverse social or community projects. It's remarkable the way they juggle their voluntary work with demanding studies, and even achieve outstanding study results at the same time. The ZEISS Women Award first place includes an award and prize money totaling EUR 10,000. Second and third place winners are awarded EUR 5,000 and EUR 2,000 respectively.
The Women Award is sponsored by Elke Büdenbender, wife of German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The ZEISS Women Award was first launched in 2011 as the "Woman Award" by Dresden-based IT company Saxonia Systems AG, which now forms part of the ZEISS Group. Initiator Viola Klein wanted to draw attention to the very low number of women pursuing degrees in IT at universities in Saxony at the time and wanted to encourage young women to consider a career in IT. "Women in IT are still in the minority in Germany and have a lot of catching up to do compared to other countries. This is true for STEM professions in general, but also for startups. Women are involved in 47 percent of start ups in Finland - in Germany, the figure is just 11 percent."
Some applicants are making a strong case for women in IT in their own volunteer projects
The range of social and community involvement among the young women was particularly striking. Some are themselves involved in getting more women into computer science. They work as STEM ambassadors, mentor programs like "Jugend hackt," or make a podcast to empower women in computer science. Others deliver food for charities or volunteer as equine therapists.
Further information on the concept of the ZEISS Women Award, the jury, etc here zeiss.com/womenaward
Meike Nauta is working on her doctoral thesis at the University of Twente in Enschede/the Netherlands and at the Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Medicine's University Hospital in Essen, Germany. Her research aims to develop new AI methods to better understand and track AI processes. Meike Nauta has already completed her Bachelor's and Master's degrees at the University of Twente. Her Master's thesis was awarded outstanding grades (10/10) in 2018 and was named the Best Master's Thesis in IT in the Netherlands. Meike Nauta also thinks that the ratio of women in IT is still low because girls are introduced to computer science very late in school. That's why she got involved in the Netherlands as an ambassador for "Women in STEM Professions" and organizes exciting workshops and projects at schools for girls aged 12 and over. "If you ask young women about their ideas for their future profession, many of them would like to help other people and work with people," says Meike Nauta. "I want to show these girls that they can use computers to do just that and you very often work in a team in a STEM profession. IT is very diverse and doesn't just boil down to "my computer and me".
ZEISS is an internationally leading technology enterprise operating in the fields of optics and optoelectronics. In the previous fiscal year, the ZEISS Group generated annual revenue totaling 7.5 billion euros in its four segments Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology, Industrial Quality & Research, Medical Technology and Consumer Markets (status: 30 September 2021).
For its customers, ZEISS develops, produces and distributes highly innovative solutions for industrial metrology and quality assurance, microscopy solutions for the life sciences and materials research, and medical technology solutions for diagnostics and treatment in ophthalmology and microsurgery. The name ZEISS is also synonymous with the world's leading lithography optics, which are used by the chip industry to manufacture semiconductor components. There is global demand for trendsetting ZEISS brand products such as eyeglass lenses, camera lenses and binoculars.
With a portfolio aligned with future growth areas like digitalization, healthcare and Smart Production and a strong brand, ZEISS is shaping the future of technology and constantly advancing the world of optics and related fields with its solutions. The company's significant, sustainable investments in research and development lay the foundation for the success and continued expansion of ZEISS' technology and market leadership. ZEISS invests 13 percent of its revenue in research and development – this high level of expenditure has a long tradition at ZEISS and is also an investment in the future.
With around 37,000 employees, ZEISS is active globally in almost 50 countries with around 30 production sites, 60 sales and service companies and 27 research and development facilities (status: 31 March 2022). Founded in 1846 in Jena, the company is headquartered in Oberkochen, Germany. The Carl Zeiss Foundation, one of the largest foundations in Germany committed to the promotion of science, is the sole owner of the holding company, Carl Zeiss AG.
Further information at www.zeiss.com