International Women’s Day: Spotlight on WU’s women pioneers


For WU, International Women’s Day is always an opportunity to turn the spotlight on pioneering women from business and economics.

By featuring these role models in presentations, WU wants to show young women that they can be successful in a wide range of different fields. This year, on the occasion of WU’s 125th anniversary, the focus will be on eminent WU alumnae from the university’s history and on equal opportunities milestones. These two topics will be presented online and on posters placed on campus. There will also be a scavenger hunt, where participants can win restaurant gift cards.

WU has put together a selection of prominent alumnae from the university’s history that offers an interesting cross-section of careers and biographies from the past century. By presenting this diverse group of women to the public, WU wants to break up gender stereotypes. From Anna Baidaff, the first female graduate of the Imperial Export Academy, to personalities such as Polish resistance fighter Halina Karin, pioneering economist Maria Schaumayer, and successful fashion designer Marina Hoermanseder – WU is highlighting the diverse success stories of pioneering women who completed their degree programs at the university or one of its predecessor institutions.

Female role models highlight the diversity of career paths of WU graduates

By turning the spotlight on these women pioneers, WU wants to inspire the next generation of women and show what diverse careers are possible with a WU degree. WU Rector Edeltraud Hanappi-Egger, a pioneer herself, who became WU’s first professor of gender and diversity in organizations in 2002 and WU’s first woman rector in 2015, says, “Management positions are still largely a male domain in Austria. This imbalance seems downright absurd in view of the fact that almost 56% of our university graduates are female. In any case, increasing the public visibility of women is important for encouraging young women and highlighting the variety of opportunities open to them.”

Milestones of WU’s history

The presentation also includes a separate poster that traces the history of equal opportunities at WU. Among other milestones, it lists the establishment of WU’s Career Program for Women in Research in 2006, the habilitation fellowships for women in 2007, and the Gender Policy Office in 2013. Under the lead of WU Rector Hanappi-Egger, a range of further equal opportunities measures have been implemented. For example, she launched the uLiKe performance assessment concept, which evaluates faculty members’ academic activities against the background of their biographies and in relation to their opportunities. This concept won the first Diversitas Award presented by the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research in 2016, and it has also helped to increase the percentage of women among WU’s full professors from under 20% to 31%. The Rector also initiated the Wise Women of WU mentoring program, which pairs young women up with successful female managers and entrepreneurs who support them in their career development.

More information on the biographies and the scavenger hunt

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