It’s not possible to plan your career strategically
In our series of 22 reports, we present a panorama of female researchers from various qualification levels and academic positions, ranging from students to W3 professors. With their individual career paths, the female researchers in STEM subjects act as role models to encourage young female researchers to pursue an academic career, giving interesting insights into their careers to date. The MINT experts also share aspects of their private lives.
Professorin Kathrin Castiglione: ‘It’s not possible to plan your career strategically’
Professor Kathrin Castiglione has held the Chair for Bioprocess Engineering at the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering (CBI) of FAU since 2018. Her research focuses on applied and sustainable industrial biotechnology. Microorganisms or enzymes are used as biocatalysts in the production of pharmaceuticals, agricultural products or food and fodder. ‘Biotechnology is all around us in our everyday lives. Enzymes are found in detergents and drugs such as insulin are also produced in a biotechnological process – as is beer.’ Professor Castiglione is particularly interested in special molecules that exist as an image and mirror image version and are needed for drug manufacture.
All of a sudden, I’m the token woman’
In a YouTube video produced by FAU, she explains her research, and you can see how passionate she is about her subject. In addition, Castiglione is regarded as an outstanding lecturer and is popular among students and young researchers. Just recently, she received the Audience Award for Excellent Teaching from the CBI student association initiative and the year before the Teaching Award of the Faculty of Engineering. She sometimes finds things ambivalent nonetheless: ’I got top grades at school and in my degree. Yet suddenly as a scientist I find myself in a situation where I’m packed away in the gender quota cubbyhole more often than I’d like’. And she goes on to explain: ‘All of a sudden, I’m the token woman. I really don’t know what’s going on here. I’ve won two teaching awards, and then a colleague says: It was high time that a woman won it again!’ Whereby, she adds, in teaching evaluations she is rated equally well by both male and female students alike. She says that acceptance on the part of students is not the problem. ‘What leaves a bitter taste is that there is often the suspicion that you owe what you’ve accomplished to the fact that you’re a woman! That destroys female researchers’ self-confidence. I would like to be defined by my performance.’ Professor Castiglione sometimes feels that being a woman in science is a downright burden. She discusses this with her colleagues too. ‘The problem is finding a happy medium. It’s important not to give women special treatment that then disadvantages them, but instead to measure them against their achievements.’
FAU wrote her a letter: Please apply!
Time management: afternoons are family time!
This article is part of the brochure “The Sky is the Limit”
Brochure “The Sky is the Limit”
Diverse, inspiring and innovative, the brochure “The Sky is the Limit” introduces female researchers in STEM subjects from the Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Sciences in a series of varied interviews.
Other interviews are available on the Research website.
Download the brochure “The Sky is the Limit — Female STEM scientists at FAU”
The publication is the result of collaboration between RTG 2423 FRASCAL and the Office of Equality and Diversity. Dr. Susanne Stemmler conducted the interviews.