Sabine Seidler

Title

O.Univ.Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dr.techn., Rektorin der TU Wien seit 2011

Date and place of birth

1961, Sangerhausen (D)

Studium/Studienrichtung

Studium der Polymerwerkstofftechnik an der Technischen Hochschule Merseburg

Interview date

Interviewdatum: 29. Februar 2012

Rektorin Seidler im Kurzinterview

My research interests lie in the fields of polymer testing, fracture mechanics and structure-property correlations in polymers. It found me, as they say. During my studies, I had the opportunity to work as part of a group of students on scientific projects from the field of fracture mechanics and the combination of mechanics and materials has just always fascinated me.

I like working and, alongside a high level of self-discipline, I think that's an important prerequisite. My daughters were there throughout my entire career, beginning with the doctorate. This was possible only thanks to various aspects coming together. It's extremely important to know that your children are being well looked after and, in this respect in particular, I've always had very positive experiences. However, you also need the appropriate environment both in the family setting – I had and still have the support of my husband – and more broadly speaking. This includes a working environment that takes into account the particular requirements of working mothers. Things like maintaining communication during my maternity leave through my PhD supervisor Professor Grellmann, who still teaches at the Martin Luther University in Halle-Wittenberg, and the contact with colleagues were indispensable.

No. In my case, it's brought neither advantages nor disadvantages. TU Wien has been very much in the hands of women since October 2011. In my team, I have additional support from the Vice Rector for Personnel and Gender – a new role at TU Wien. However, the history of women in technology and natural sciences is a long and often troubled one. It wasn't until 1919 that women were allowed to study at what was then still called the Technical University of Vienna. This means it took around 100 years after TU Wien was founded in 1815 for women to enter the male domains of university and technology. And ultimately it took almost another 100 years for a woman to reach management level at TU Wien. Coming from a science background, I was the first Vice Rector for Research to take on a management role in 2007. I see the post of Rector as a logical career path here at the university. In our society, I believe entrenched female gender roles and a lack of role models are responsible for the fact that, particularly in technical and scientific fields, too few women take on the challenge of a technical course or career. That's why it's so important to encourage girls and young women to pursue their interests and study at a technical university.

When it comes to my current role, the question is virtually impossible to answer. My husband would probably ask "What private life?". I think everyone can imagine that managing a university with around 4,000 employees and 27,000 students doesn't allow for much free time. This is where the fact that I've always needed a high level of self-discipline and organisation really pays off. Thanks to a combination of the two, I'm able to find some breathing space to ensure enough of a balance that I can do my job well. Essentially, it is, of course, the things that I already mentioned in my answer to question five that are important: the working environment and the family environment.

I recommend being open to everything. First just 'have a look', then think about it where necessary and finally draw your conclusions and reflect on the advantages and disadvantages.

O.Univ.Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dr.techn. Dr.-Ing. h.c.

Sabine Seidler

Rektorin

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