RWTH Awards 2020 Brigitte Gilles Prize


RWTH Aachen University awarded the 2020 Brigitte Gilles Prize, worth up to 2,500 euros, in a total of four categories. This year, the prize rewards projects, initiatives, and a thesis for improving the conditions for study, teaching, and research for women at the university. In doing so, they also help increase the number of female scientists and students in courses with a low proportion of women.

  People posing on the stairs of the RWTH Main Building Copyright: © Andreas Schmitter Professor Doris Klee (center back), Vice-Rector for Human Resources Management and Development at RWTH, presented the 2020 Brigitte Gilles Prizes.

The external category honors projects that promote female students’ interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics - or the STEM subjects for short. This year's award went to the initiative „Die interaktive Erlebniswelt der Akustik für große und kleine Kinder,“ which roughly translates to “The interactive world of acoustics for big and small children.” The initiative’s team developed concepts to enable girls between the ages of three and twelve to explore and learn about hearing and acoustics in a playful and interactive way. Karin Loh from the Department of Medical Acoustics coordinates and supervises the initiative, and Professor Janina Fels heads it.

The networking platform “female Network Melaten” received the award in the internal category. This initiative aims to facilitate active knowledge exchange and networking for professional women at Campus Melaten. Structural exclusion and personal concerns are common reasons that often lead to ineffective networking among women. The platform is used to organize special events for the women who work at Campus Melaten to get to know each other while also providing them with fresh impetus and the opportunity to find common interests. Katharina Müller from the Chair of Production Engineering, is responsible for the project.

The project “Hlumani – der Zukunft eine gerechte Chance geben,” which translates to “Hlumani - giving the future a fair chance” received a special prize. It emerged from an international university partnership between the RWTH Chair of Landscape Architecture, the University of Stuttgart, and the University of Cape Town. The project supports developing a community center for women farmers, making it a meeting place, shipping station, and salesroom for their harvested fruits and vegetables. The project combines women’s advancement, international spirit, sustainability, and diversity and thus increases RWTH’s visibility worldwide.

The 2020 Brigitte Gilles Prize in the final thesis category was awarded to Dr. Anna Stertz from the Chair and Institute of Psychology for her dissertation entitled “From an individual to a dyadic perspective on work and family: Parents’ decisions and experiences after childbirth.” She examined parents’ work- and family-related decisions and how they experience their new reality after their child’s birth from an individual and dyadic perspective. As couples transition to parenthood, the distribution of gainful employment and family work tends to follow a traditional pattern: Mothers spend more time on childcare and housework, while fathers focus on gainful employment. As a result, parental leave is not shared equally, although this is often what both sides would like. The dissertation was supervised by Professor Bettina Wiese, Chair and Institute of Psychology, and private lecturer Dr. Viktoria Arling from the Department of Health Psychology. Dr. Stertz received summa cum laude honors for her exceptional work.

Source: Press and Communications