Women in Science Profiles

Dr. Tatjana Welzer Druzovec

Science – today a notion, a fact and a way of life. But how did it all start, how did science become a part of my life and how did it all develop?

When I search through my memory, my mind takes me back to secondary school where I first got the opportunity to learn more about science. Together with other pupils I participated in the movement Science to the Youth. Our task was to prepare research assignments from different fields. I was particularly enthused by a project on blood examinations which was prepared by two of my fellow pupils and I think it was then when I first had the feeling that this was something I wanted to do as well. The next milestone was the end of secondary school when we had to make a decision about our further education. My goal was to study computer science, but I finally became a student of electrotechnics which is a technical subject as well.

More then a year afterwards, when I first crossed the threshold of the faculty, I started taking part in students' research activities. This was the beginning as well as the end: science was no longer just a notion – it became a fact and a way of life.

It is not always easy. Everyday life constantly requires, expects and needs decisions which do not have much to do with science, except that in some moments it is exactly science which stands in the way and which can be blamed for the laundry which still needs to be washed, for the apartment which still needs to be cleaned and books piled up everywhere. On the other hand, of course, science or technological solutions can be used also to our own advantage. Maybe the washing machine contains a part which was the subject of our research. Or the vacuum cleaner used not only for dust but also for mites – and what is it again that is on the other side of this? Research of all types and, of course, science.

The scientific field I work in is the field of databases which seem very common and thoroughly researched, but they still pose many new challenges. Those which I have accepted are linked to database planning or database designing and modeling. Modeling is the first step in developing databases and it represents the basis or a strong foundation for further development. This can be compared to building a house which without foundations would be a heap of unconnected wooden cubes which would hardly withstand the puff of air caused by a stroll around the corners of the house.

Modeling and reuse were thus also placed at the centre of my PhD thesis which I prepared during my research stay at the Klagenfurt University in Austria. This was a time when science was written with a capital S and I could devote myself entirely to research work. The working conditions were simply perfect and they also laid foundations for my present occupational and scientific work as well as for co-operation with partners which I met there. My studies in Klagenfurt were a true investment, not only from the scientific, but also from the social point of view as I met many friends and acquaintances there.

And today? I work as an associate professor which means that I lecture, research and cover the field of organization – I am an acting manager, I head of the Institute of Informatics and I am a co-ordinator in the Socrates-Erasmus programme. Research requires a lot of time and energy which today also, or primarily, need to be invested in struggles for resources at different tenders. This means there is no time to rest and to fall behind or to be too late can be almost fatal. You always have the feeling that you do not have enough publications, your final goal always seems to be out of reach. And from time to time, somewhere in the background, a shadow appears with different views on men and women and with different expectations although they should be the same and equal. One should not expect that a woman scientist is a superwoman who besides all other things also does the work which is usually done by men. Nevertheless, there are also moments when being a woman and a scientist is an advantage and not only a disadvantage or at least a deficiency.

Women in Science Profiles