Women in Tech: Virtual talk with career insights

‘Just do it!’: In the third edition of the online series of discussions, UAS Technikum Wien’s Managing Director, Gabriele Költringer, and Beatrice Gabbin, a UAS Technikum Wien graduate, talked about their professional experiences in the worlds of science and technology.

The third edition of the virtual ‘Women in Tech’ series of discussions took place in a setting that was appropriate in regard to both the topic and the timing: right between the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on 11 February and International Women’s Day on 8 March. ‘From Higher Education to Science and Beyond’ was the motto under which Gabriele Költringer, Managing Director at UAS Technikum Wien, and Beatrice Gabbin, a UAS Technikum Wien graduate, shared interesting insights into their careers and talked about their experiences in the worlds of science and technology during an online conversation.

Gabriele Költringer, Managing Director (left), and Beatrice Gabbin, graduate from UAS Technikum Wien

Gabriele Költringer started her own business at the young age of 21. She held professional positions in international corporate environments and has been working at UAS Technikum Wien for 20 years, the last three years of which she has held the position of Managing Director there. Beatrice Gabbin originally hails from Italy and studied Biomedical Engineering in Padua before obtaining her Master’s degree in Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine at UAS Technikum Wien. Beatrice Gabbin says that the more hands-on training at the university of applied sciences complemented her more theory-oriented studies in Italy. She was given the opportunity within the scope of the Marshall Plan Scholarship to spend some time researching her field in the USA and was able to work for her Master’s thesis at the Department of Cardiology at Boston Children’s Hospital – which is part of the Harvard Medical School. She is currently working as a Research Scholar in Boston.

“Women in particular often experience self-doubt and frequently don’t seize opportunities as unhesitatingly as men do.”
Gabriele Költringer, Managing Director UAS Technikum Wien

Out of the comfort zone

Such international residencies help people step out of their comfort zone, Beatrice Gabbin says. She greatly increased her self-confidence during her internship and also benefited significantly in terms of organizational skills, adaptability and teamwork.

Gabriele Költringer, Managing Director at UAS Technikum Wien, sees international experience as a ‘must’ these days; it is essential and key to success. It is important to remain curious, to think ‘out of the box’ and, above all, to remain open to all possibilities. “Women in particular often experience self-doubt and frequently don’t seize opportunities as unhesitatingly as men do. Say ‘yes!’ and don’t question whether you’re competent enough. Just do it!,” Gabriele Költringer advises.

Professional and focused

It is always important to prepare carefully, to be aware of one’s own strengths and to present oneself in a professional manner. Besides focusing on the topic, however, it is also very important to remain authentic. “You’re allowed to make mistakes and admit to them, too.”

Perseverance is also an important factor for Beatrice Gabbin: Her first application in the USA was rejected but she didn’t let herself be discouraged by that. Although she is aware that her position is privileged, she also knows that “different standards simply do exist for men and women”. And although her academic and family environment have always been very supportive, she has also been forced to contend with prejudices: She promptly removed her application picture from her CV after a friend ‘jokingly’ remarked that she’d only been accepted in Boston because of the photo.

“Different standards simply do exist for men and women.”
Beatrice Gabbin, graduate from UAS Technikum Wien

Work-life balance and hard work

While Beatrice Gabbin believes that a healthy work-life balance is an important factor in career advancement, Gabriele Költringer recommends that young female scientists make intensive use of their time as students and work hard: after all, higher education at universities that is practically free as it exists in Austria is a privilege. And it is possible to achieve more if you push yourself to your limits than you would if you stayed in your comfort zone. She also says, however, that professional success is not the only thing that counts: “You also have to be happy in what you do.”
Last but not least, Beatrice Gabbin also emphasizes the effect that language has on the respectful interaction between the sexes. In this regard, it’s important to be a role model to children and to raise their awareness.

Note: The series of discussions takes place twice every semester, and the next date has been scheduled for May 2021.