WOMEN UNDERTAKE! was the central theme of the first Alumnae-Conference. The spectrum of topics ranged from women and diversity in supervisory boards through feminist social-start-ups up, to the question whether and if so how, female differs from male leadership. Deutschlandstipendium scholarship holder Artemis Vasilakis attended the conference as well and summarized her impressions of the event.

What stands out to me at the University of Göttingen, is the town itself and the civic engagement that constitutes a natural part of the University.

1st Alumnae-Conference in Göttingen: WOMEN UNDERTAKE

About networking, strong women and an inspiring message

It is March 7th, 2020. The first Alumnae-Conference is taking place in Göttingen. The conference is an event arranged by women for women and it aims at establishing a network that enables women to support each other in their development, engagement and career. The spectrum of topics ranges from social commitment and entrepreneurship through diversity in supervisory boards, to the challenges that women face in medicine.

Alumna of the law faculty and top manager at Daimler AG, Katrin Adt, enthralled the audience with her speech: How holey is the glass ceiling? Experiences gained in a major corporation. During her presentation the audience smiles and nods of approval, the crowd applauds several times. One of Katrin Adt’s main insights is the following: Women themselves carry the glass ceiling within their heads. To break through it, it takes courage and confidence. The desired outcome? The ability to self-design the perception of women. Especially in this context, women’s networks gain importance, because they can help to create role models for young women that enable them to improve their self-confidence.

Networking together means reflecting strength together towards the outside, getting help when needed and learning from women, who might have more experience, than I have myself.

But what exactly does the slogan: *“After all, networking is just a fancy word for socializing” mean? Why is networking so useful and valuable? Tanja Dornieden, Alumna of geosciences and a member of the Alumnae-Conference-Committee, explains: *“Maybe one finds people who are inspiring and who are able to present and generate good thoughts in such networks. Maybe one connects with those, whom they work well with or one gets to help other people and opens new doors for them.” *

Student and attendee, Gordon Mehmert, thinks that networking is beneficial for everyone, regardless of gender. He believes that experience exchange and support are paramount to networking. Martina Henn-Sax, attendee and business woman says: “Networking together means reflecting strength together towards the outside, getting help when needed and learning from women, who might have more experience, than I have myself […].”

Building networks within the group of 30.000 Alumni who are connected by Alumni Göttingen should be easy. “From my point of view, Alumni are an important source of knowledge, here at the University […]. I also think, however, that it is important that Alumni are able to establish networks among each other. They do have a common background of having studied in this town and at this University, so in most cases it is easier, to get to know new people and ask oneself, what can we learn from each other. This is why these events are so important, in my opinion.” explains Prof. Dr. Michael Wolff, member of the faculty of business and economics.

Alumna and Migrant-Mama-co-founder Manik Chander also believes that Göttingen is a great location for the development of such networks: “I believe, that what makes the University of Göttingen special, is the town and the civic engagement that constitutes a natural part of the university […]. I have learnt a lot about engagement at the University of Göttingen and the people I got to know here, showed me what entrepreneurship really is like.” She also stresses: “Sometimes one needs the feeling of ‘I am not alone’, to understand that I am not alone with my problems and needs. In this case it is very beneficial to network, which then creates a feeling of ‘I am not alone with this problem’. I think that networking helps us find solutions that match us.”

It is almost strange that not every man is dealing with this question.

Another perspective revealing the importance of Alumnae-networks is presented by Prof. Dr. Michael Wolff, who was the only male workshop leader during the conference: “As a business economist, I see it from the perspective of resources. Many companies have difficulties, finding really good women, but also establishing the related framework conditions. That is why, I would encourage the idea of creating a long-term format that fosters the exchange of female Alumni regarding topics like ‘how to better design companies or institutions to enable more women to be in leading positions or to pursue a career’.” Asked, why this topic is also important for men, he calmly replied: “In this regard I am quite self-centered. Every male manager has to think about a way to get the best candidates on board and these are also women. Hence every man should think about how he could establish conditions to actively support women. It is almost strange that not every man is dealing with this question.”

At the end of the conference – when contacts were successfully established, after the workshops and speeches – remains a feeling which is perfectly depicted by Tanja Dornieden: „I take home very inspiring thoughts from inspiring people. I notice so much engagement and fire and a strong will to change something, to change something for the better and a lot of openness.”

Report by Artemis Vasilakis | Student and Deutschlandstipendiatin

Photos: Peter Heller

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