Carola E., Senior Researcher at voestalpine Stahl GmbH, has always been quick to push through imaginary boundaries. She is an enthusiastic advocate for more diversity in practice, both in her field and in her private life.
Carola E. has worked in a male-dominated field for years. It has never intimidated her. “I have never limited my professional choices,” she says. It never mattered to her whether a profession was considered to be just for men or women. She follows her heart and her interests. And so, 15 years ago, she moved from Germany to Austria for her job at voestalpine, and today she works as a senior researcher in strategic research with a focus on innovative coatings. The job includes systematic technology scouting to generate ideas for new products.
When she talks about her work, you instantly see and feel her enthusiasm.
"I love the diversity at voestalpine, that there are so many different projects where you can learn new things."
Due to the size of the company, there are also opportunities to get to know other areas. That’s how you can develop. And so she didn’t think twice last year when she was offered the opportunity to conduct a customer journey at nbi, the new business incubator at voestalpine.
Now back in research again, she is currently working on innovative coatings for tomorrow’s urban development. A major focus here lies on building facades: how they can be used to convert and store energy, and how they can minimize a building’s energy consumption. This requires a lot of research, but Carola also really likes the practical side of implementing projects. “I like to be able to understand and actively engage with things,” she says.
Even as a child she enjoyed playing with physics kits and getting to the root of the matter. She was also interested in horses—it is diversity that appeals to her. At school she specialized in physics and history. “When it came to history, I thought I could satisfy my interest by reading newspapers and books at home, but physics is what I really wanted to pursue more deeply.” Carola E. studied technical physics. When she started working in the field she quickly realized that pure theoretical research was not exciting enough for her. That’s why voestalpine is the perfect employer for her.
Breaking down imaginary boundaries
In her free time, her family and her two sons (6 and 10 years old) definitely come first. “They like to use me as a taxi service,” laughs Carola. Sport is also very important to her. Here, too, she pushed through imaginary boundaries when she was young. At the age of ten, she wanted to play soccer but the local club didn’t have a girls’ team. So, she and her friends got together and convinced the club to start a separate team for girls—and it still exists today.
Go for it!
What does she think of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science and Technology? She feels it is a good thing that there are days like this and Girls’ Day, and that schools make it clear that girls can pursue any career that interests them. “I’m not about pushing anyone in a specific direction,” she says, “but instead about showing that everyone should have the same choice.” Her advice to girls: Go for it!
"I want them to believe in themselves. It’s okay to try something and then realize it didn’t work out. You can always start again. The important thing is to try."