Women in Science: On 11 February every year, the International Day of Women and Girls in Science is celebrated to promote the full and equal access and participation of females in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). In FlashPhos, many women are making an important contribution to the successful progress of the project. One of them is Bianka Leidold who is working at Goriup Feuerfest GmbH (GFG) in Austria. In the following interview, Bianka is giving some insights into her work and journey in STEM.
What is your academic background and why have you decided to pursue STEM and more specifically your field of work?
First I have to say, that I was not allowed to make my own choice in which school I would like to go to; so I had to visit a commercial high school with a technical branch of education, for example electrician, blacksmith, carpenter. I decided to take the technical illustrator education because a very good teacher of mine once said: “Everything you hold in your hand has to be drawn sometime.” And so I thought that this profession will never die and I also found it interesting.
What are you doing at Goriup Feuerfest GmbH (GFG) and what is your role in FlashPhos?
GFG is an Austrian company specialised in the production of refractory components and high-temperature insulating items. I’ve been working for GFG for 2 years now, but not in my learned profession; I’m now in “quality assurance”. My area of responsibility includes all kinds of measurements of our products before they get delivered to our customers; logging and registering the results in our quality form, and creating new forms if needed. I also have to control the work instructions when they were read by new employees, read out the firing curve from the annealing furnace and the kiln, and handle complaints (ours and from customers).
In FlashPhos I am responsible for concrete specimens (make them, measure them, record the results, …). This has to be done to figure out what material we can use for the furnace so that the FlashPhos Reactor can be used as needed. I also help out my boss with some fill-ins, workshops, and paperwork (as best I can with my knowledge).
What motivates you to work in FlashPhos?
It’s an interesting and necessary project for phosphor exploitation to save and/or treat with care the natural resources.
Are there female role models that inspired you throughout your training or your career?
No; I always wanted to go my own way; had my own thoughts about my future and my goals, wishes and dreams.
What are your expectations and wishes for the future regarding the role of women in science? What advice can you give girls interested in a career in STEM?
As advice, and this applies to all, I only have to say:
“Proceed on your path in appreciation of yourself at all times”.