To celebrate the 50th anniversary of women obtaining the right to vote in Switzerland, the National Centres of Competence in Research (NCCR) will introduce you to women working in Swiss research institutes. Today we invite you to meet Katharina Fromm Giese!
Did you always know you wanted to pursue a career in science?
Yes, from early on, but that it would be chemistry became clear only after graduation. This is why it is important to keep all sciences “in the game”, especially maths, as it is needed for everything.
What do you like about your field of research?
The equilibrium between theory and practice – and to be able to create something new. It is like using words to write new books – in chemistry, we use atoms to generate new molecules and from there, new materials.
As a woman, have you always been in the minority? and if so, has this been a problem? an anecdote, positive or negative?
Well, somehow yes. I am occasionally asked where Mr Prof. Fromm is, and letters addressed to me often start with “Dear Sir”. One can laugh about it if one has reached a certain career level, but as young scientist, this is not so funny.
As a woman and a scientist, do you consider that you can be a role model for young people who would like to follow in your footsteps?
I sincerely try to be a role model and I encourage young people where I can. I do not expect them to follow exactly in my footsteps, but try to help them so that they become strong enough to find their way and follow their own path.
Did you yourself have a role model that allowed you to become who you are today? Or on the contrary, did you miss this model?
Certainly my grandmother, my mother as well as my “Doktormutter” showed me that by working hard to create opportunities, doing a good job in what you like doing, with independent thinking and self-motivation, you can reach things even beyond your initial dreams.