MARIA SCHUR – BREAKING DOWN STEREOTYPES: AN AUTOMOTIVE MECHATRONICS ENGINEER BRINGING THE WINDS OF CHANGE INTO THE LABORATORY

October 08, 2020

Fraunhofer employee Maria Schur is one of eleven technical-scientific employees at Fraunhofer IGP in Rostock. She is still the only woman in her working group – but she is keen to see more female support in the future.

© Fraunhofer IGP Rostock
Our technical employee Maria Schur at her desk in the Mechanical Joining Technology Lab.

Maria Schur has been working at the Fraunhofer Institute for Large Structures in Production Engineering IGP since the end of 2018. The 25-year-old from Rostock is a qualified automotive mechatronics engineer. Her interest in technology runs in the family. “My father is a master craftsman in heating, plumbing and ventilation. We have always driven old cars. They broke down at times. My father repaired the cars himself. I always wanted to know how the car worked. We repaired everything together – no matter what broke down at home”, explains Maria. After an internship in a car factory, her decision was clear: Maria completed her training as a car mechatronics technician. „There were only three women in my training year”, she recalls. “My colleagues in the factory were very sceptical at first and I had to prove to them that I could do the same job they were doing. Maria is a member of the Mechanical Joining Technology department at Fraunhofer IGP. She is the only woman in her group, but she is not the only female technical-scientific employee at the Fraunhofer IGP.

The number of female scientists is growing steadily

The mechatronics engineer is one of four technical employees and seven engineers. These eleven employees are joined by more than 60 scientific and technical staff. However, Fraunhofer is working on encouraging the next generation of women in the field of mechanical engineering: “Not counting the women in admin, we currently have eight female students working as research assistants. We would like to increase this number and so we are aiming to encourage students from the MINT fields (Maths, IT, Natural Science and Technology) to actively apply for a job
with us”, explains Human Resources Manager, Claudia Bäcker.

A varied range of tasks

“I get along very well with my colleagues.  In any case, working here is completely different to working in an automotive workshop”, says Maria happily. She is responsible for the laboratory in the group. Her position was newly created in 2018: „I had a great deal to do at the beginning to bring order and an overview into the laboratory. The work is certainly very varied. I prepare experiments. I have to deal with standards and regulations and also take on administrative tasks. I can and must undergo ongoing training. For sure, it‘s never boring here”. Rostock-born Maria appreciates the good cohesion among colleagues as well as the fact that she can work freely and, above all, independently. In October 2020, Maria will start further training to become a state-certified technician – with support from Fraunhofer IGP, of course.
 
Women taking their first steps on the career ladder
transform into technical experts

Lisa Knaack, Head of Administration, began her career at the institute as an engineer and is pleased about the increasing number of female scientific staff: “When I started at Fraunhofer IGP in 2012, I was the first female research assistant at the Rostock site. Since then, the number of female scientists has steadily grown and young women taking their first steps on the career ladder have become experts who are in no way inferior to their male colleagues”. The Fraunhofer Society specifically supports the promotion of female scientists with programmes such as “Talents” and “speed up”. Fraunhofer IGP will remain actively involved in the future in order to inspire both boys and girls to pursue a career in science.