TU Graz/ TU Graz/ Services/ News+Stories/

“There’s no reason for girls to feel anxious”

Hilary loves the Software Development and Business Management programme. She explains why you don’t need any special previous knowledge of maths, and why girls should listen to no-one but themselves.

The brown-haired native of Graz with the animated dark eyes studies Software Development and Business Management at Graz University of Technology. The 21-year-old first came into contact with technology at primary school. Today she works in Graz University of Technology’s women’s promotion programme, visits schools and will soon again be part of the team on the Women in Technology info day.

What worries do girl pupils have when they consider studying for a technical degree?

They always ask about previous knowledge in mathematics. Then they ask: “Are technology study programmes really so hard?”. I think they still get this worry from school. I’ve experienced myself how older teachers in particular discourage girls. And parents often pass on this prejudice by saying this is a man’s job and that is a woman’s job. There’s no reason for girls to feel anxious. That’s why I’m very happy to work in the Gender Equality and Affirmative Action Office.

How much mathematics do you have to know to study for a technology degree?

Mathematics starts at the uni from scratch. The difference with school is that the material at the university is only explained once. I know people who had very little previous knowledge of maths before their studies. At the beginning you can get help in tutorials, which are starter courses where higher-semester students explain the material. There is Maths 0, 1 and 2 and so on. You even get ECTS credits for the tutorials, which you need to complete the study programme. And of course, at uni it’s also important to learn in teams, it’s always easier together. Maths was never a problem for me. At school I used to take part in maths olympiads (grins). For me I really need tutorials in programming subjects.

Are there any other learning aids?

I’ve experienced learning teams being set up by friends. You also get to know people in the first-semester tutorials. You usually stay friends with them throughout your time at uni.

The next Women in Technology info day is taking place on 8 February. What will the girl pupils expect?

On Women in Technology info days you can get information on technology and science study programmes in Styria and Burgenland. There’s a panel discussion and information stand about each field of study. Students from the relevant fields of study communicate not just general information about the study programme, but also their own experiences.

What advice would you give to young women who are choosing their course of study?

That they should study something which they find fun; after all they’ll be involved in that subject for their whole lives. That they shouldn’t listen to what other people say. And that women shouldn’t be afraid of technology study programmes, and studying can be a lot of fun. On the whole a lot of reciprocal help is available. And the boys always want to help (grins). If you haven’t got something, you can get notes and transcripts about it from almost anyone, and the documentation is usually online.

Why did you decide to do a technology degree?

At primary school I took part in a TU Graz summer computer course for girls in the holidays. At 14 I completed the last continuation course of the programme. But a holiday job in one of the institutes was only possible at 15. Then I heard about the Women in Technology info day. There, two women technologists talked about their studies and professional life during the panel discussion; it was really exciting. The experiences of the telematics engineer, who was employed in the aerospace industry, especially fascinated me.

And you finally ended up in the Software Development and Business Management programme?

Shortly before the Women in Technology info day, I had decided to take IT at the Keppler School. Because it was so much fun, I wanted to do something in that direction, but I wasn’t sure what. So I registered in the “T³UG - Teens meet Technology”programme for a holiday work placement. You have to tick off your main interests on the registration form. Then you’re offered a suitable work placement at a particular institute.

What kind of experiences did you have in the work placement?

All in all there were four work placements, one for each summer after age 15 (laughs). I wanted to have something to do with machines, and also programming. So, first I had a look at the Institute for Computer Graphics and Vision, then the Institute of Computer Graphics and Knowledge Visualization, and finally I was at the Signal Processing and Speech Communication Laboratory twice. The supervisors really sit down with you and give you information not just about later professional life but also about uni and the study programme. Due to these talks I specifically chose the bachelor’s programme in Software Development and Business Management – which, by the way, is relatively close to my original choice – telematics.

In which direction would you like to develop professionally?

I don’t know exactly yet, but at any rate I want my future job to deal with computer graphics or vision, perhaps also with monitoring systems. Internet security or just security in general would interest me. This year there is a new Computer Science master’s programme held in English in my subject, and I really want to do it. The subjects fit in perfectly with what I’ve done, and to show that I’ve worked in another language will definitely be useful later.

What about your career prospects?

There are so many job possibilities in technology fields in particular – even parallel with the studies – that you didn’t imagine before. I’ve registered with several job exchanges and told them my qualifications. Now every week I get two to four emails about jobs which I can apply for even though I’m still doing my bachelor’s programme.

Information

Women in Technology info day 2016

Attending the Women in Technology info day is a prerequisite for registering for a holiday work placement at Graz University of Technology and for registering for the technology taster programme on 11 and 12 February.

See the Women in Technology website for all information