Women in Science: Gerti Kappel
TU Wien’s new series “Women in Science” features exceptional female role models in academia. Read the interview with our Dean Gerti Kappel.
Gerti Kappel has been Dean of TU Wien Informatics since 2020. In 1993, at 33, she was appointed full professor of informatics at Johannes Kepler University Linz. Kappel encourages women to pursue careers in technology: she directed the prestigious Women’s Postgraduate College for Internet Technologies from 2003 to 2007, paving the way for several ongoing programs supporting female scientists and leaders. She repeatedly stresses how important it has been for her career always to be open to new challenges. In this interview, she discusses her thoughts on her career and her understanding of leadership.
What are you currently dealing with in your work? I have been Dean of the Faculty of Informatics at TU Wien for over three years, the largest of its kind in Austria and one of the largest in Europe. Naturally, my primary endeavors are:
to lead and develop the faculty confidently through the generational change that is currently taking place in the scientific staff and to position it internationally,
to strengthen and broaden the public’s perception of computer science as a shaping science that fundamentally changes all areas of our lives,
and to convey to the staff daily what a tremendous privilege and demanding obligation it is to work at a university.
What is important to you in your role as Dean of the Faculty of Computer Science? I try to remain authentic, convey enthusiasm for our work and newly appointed colleagues, and be a role model, showing that every person contributes significantly to the faculty’s success.
What is your understanding of team leadership? I’ve been leading research groups for thirty years. It quickly becomes evident that: “I am dependent on my colleagues, and my colleagues are dependent on me”; we are strong together.
When you think back: What was important for your career? Did you already know what you wanted to be when you were a child, and did your family influence and encourage you? For a long time, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to be, but I always preferred mathematics, which was encouraged by my father, a carpenter. I had incredible ambition and the conviction to achieve more with a lot of work. I was the first in the extended family to graduate from high school, alas … . My superiors were very important for my scientific career; they encouraged and pushed me a lot.
What motivated you, and what measures are needed to convince young women to start a career in technology or the natural sciences? We still live in a conservative society with a conservative school system and conservative families. That needs to be broken up. And we need role models, role models, role models … The first steps have been taken, but there is still much to do.
The original interview in German.
Don’t miss the next interview of the “Women in Science” series at the TU Wien News. Read more about TU Wien Informatics initiative Women in Informatics and get to know our faculty through our #5QW series.
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