Women in Science Profiles
Dr. Natasa Vujica Herzog
Women in science – an interesting topic which I can easily relate to. I remember several occasions when people introduced themselves and the conversation turned to the field of work, occupation and research. Sometimes I wish I could evade such situations which have again and again caused surprise and I led to questions like "Mechanical engineering?", "How come mechanical engineering?". Because of this I got the feeling that I am drawn to a field of work which is not the most "appropriate" for women.
Even I sometimes wonder why I chose mechanical engineering. As a child I attended primary school as well as music school. Later on I played in a wind orchestra and I participated in many other activities, but what interested me most was mechanical engineering. I decided to focus on this field of work already when I had to choose a secondary school programme. After secondary school came the Faculty of Mechanical engineering. Maybe my choice of occupation was to some extent influenced by my father who is also a mechanical engineer and at the same time an economist. When I was still a girl, he often took me to manufacturing companies where he loved to explain to me how all the different machines worked. I was therefore quite familiar with manufacturing processes, maybe even more than some of my male fellow pupils and students. After I had graduated, I was offered the position of an Assistant at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. I finished my formal education with a PhD degree in mechanical engineering. For my PhD thesis entitled Development of an Index System for the Purpose of Production Process Modernisation I was awarded the Trimo Research Prize to which I attach great importance as it shows that my work is adopted and esteemed also by companies.
My lecturing at the faculty is very much entwined with my research work. I often co-operate with colleagues from other countries, particularly with those at Graz University of Technology in Austria where I spent six months and with colleagues at The University of Udine in Italy – for my stay in Udine I received a scholarship from their university.
I could say that I work and live in a predominantly male environment – even at home where I have a husband and two little sunshines to whom I devote all of my free time. I guess life is really trying to teach me that people are not divided only into men and women. What is important is that we accept each other the way we are and appreciate as well as respect our differentness. At the same time we should be aware of the fact that differences enrich our lives and do not tear us apart.
In the article (in Slovene) Happy in a men’s world, by Jasna Kontler-Salamon, published in Delo, 30.10.2007, dr. Nataša Vujica Herzog, who holds PhD in Mechanical Engineering, reflects on her experience of being a woman in a typical man’s field of science, and how she secedes to be successful with balancing career and family life.