ZEISS: ZEISS Women Award 2023 – Inspiring women in the digital and IT industry

November 3, 2023 The 13th ZEISS Women Award was presented in a festive setting in Dresden on November 2. The award winners celebrated their award at the BÖRSE DRESDEN with host Georg von Erffa, Head of Corporate Human Resources at the ZEISS Group, as well as personalities from science, politics and business and ZEISS employees. This year’s patron of the ZEISS Women Award was once again Elke Büdenbender. The award, presented by ZEISS, recognizes ambitious female students and graduates from the digital and IT sector and serves as a platform to encourage more women to pursue a career in this field.

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The award winners celebrated their award at the BÖRSE DRESDEN with host Georg von Erffa, Head of Corporate Human Resources of the ZEISS Group, as well as personalities from science, politics and business and ZEISS employees. Photo: ZEISS

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“Talent, determination and passion: this is what particularly characterizes the winners of this year’s ZEISS Women Award. I am proud that we can honor these young female talents in the IT industry and make their careers visible. They are strong role models for all young women who see their professional future in the tech sector or in the natural and engineering sciences and who face social challenges with a clear vision. Our message is: Go your own way and stay true to yourself!”, says Georg von Erffa.

The award winners: Strong personalities with a role model effect

First place went to Jana Zeller. She recently completed her bachelor’s degree in computer science at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. During her studies, she dealt with various aspects of artificial intelligence (AI). In her bachelor’s thesis, she developed a method that requires less data to predict molecular properties, among other things. This advance could speed up the search for potential drugs in the future.

Zeller is currently continuing her studies at the University of Oxford in England, where she is deepening her expertise in the field of computer science. Zeller began mentoring at “Jugend hackt” and at the Hacker School at an early stage in order to give other women and underrepresented groups more confidence in IT. “At the Hacker School, for example, I am committed to promoting women as part of the Girls Hacker Schools or developing course concepts that get children at disadvantaged schools interested in IT with Hacker School@Your School,” says Zeller. “My aim is to encourage young women to discover their skills in the technical field and show them that they are welcome in the IT sector and can make valuable contributions.”

The runner-up is Anke Haas. She completed her Master’s degree in Cognitive Computing at the University of Osnabrück this year with distinction. In her master’s thesis, she worked on the creation of a virtual voice assistant for a hospital. The aim was to train the virtual language assistant so that it could support doctors in hospitals or other medical facilities. Administrative tasks, such as the time-consuming documentation of disease progression, can be reduced by using the virtual assistant, leaving more time for patients in their day-to-day work.

In the meantime, Anke Haas started her professional career at IBM Germany. In addition to her work, she is involved in various women’s networks such as “Woman in Tech”, in IBM programs and as a freelance speaker at conferences and events. “With my presence at these events and also on LinkedIn, I want to draw attention to the so-called bias in artificial intelligence, which discriminates against women and minorities in AI in particular. I want to show ways in which AI can be better trained and make it my mission to make people aware that bias exists in AI and that every user can do something about it directly,” says Haas.

Third place went to Annika Rüll. She studied computer science at the Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen (RWTH Aachen University). In her master’s thesis, she investigated how AI and neural networks in particular can become more secure. This involved identifying mathematical regions within a neural network that are susceptible to errors. This theoretical approach to the topic of AI safety was the conclusion of a master’s degree in which she focused entirely on AI and its applications. Rüll has been working at the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) since March 2023.

Sharing knowledge about AI with the general public is a particular concern of hers. To this end, she is involved in public relations work as an AI expert. In various projects, for example with the Deutsches Museum Bonn or IT4Kids, a nationwide educational initiative that gives children access to digital education, she imparts knowledge about AI to adults and children. “With the explainable AI exhibits at the Deutsches Museum, I want to make AI understandable to a broader public and help to dispel unrealistic fears and raise awareness of the real dangers and limitations of the applications,” says Rüll. “This requires education at an early stage. I would like to make a small contribution to this with the IT4Kids AI series.”

Focusing attention on women in the digital and IT sector

The ZEISS Woman Award is an important contribution to giving women visibility in the digital and IT sector and thus inspiring future girls and women to follow this path. The award is also a great opportunity to network and exchange ideas.

The participants in the panel discussion “Teams of the Future” discussed with Viola Klein how young talents can be supported in their career development and what ways there are to be successful as a woman in the digital and IT sector. She launched the award in 2011 to draw attention to the very low proportion of women studying IT at Saxon universities at the time and to encourage young women to choose the IT sector. After all, the demand on the labor market for their knowledge and skills is high and they play an indispensable role in future entrepreneurial and social success.

A special prize was awarded to Lydia Günther during the panel discussion. After ten years in the German Armed Forces, she seized the opportunity to begin a Master’s degree in Medical and Health Technology at the University of Applied Sciences Zwickau. In addition to her determination to start a new career, the jury was particularly impressed by how well she was able to combine excellent academic results and a large family despite the demanding course of study. Her focus during her studies was on understanding digitalization and information technology as an opportunity for inclusion and participation for many different population groups and transferring this into practice.

About the ZEISS Women Award:

The ZEISS Women Award recognizes young women who make a difference, have a high level of professional expertise in IT and tech and are also strongly committed to socially important issues and causes.
The ZEISS Women Award is announced throughout Germany and presented annually. Female students from the fields of digital and IT can apply, regardless of whether they are pursuing a Bachelor’s, Master’s, Diploma or PhD degree. They should have very good grades and be working on their thesis or have recently completed it. Innovative ideas, initiative and a high level of commitment are also taken into account in the jury’s assessment. The patron of the Women Award is Elke Büdenbender. The first place of the ZEISS Women Award is endowed with a citation and 8,000 euros. Second and third place also come with prize money of 5000 and 3000 euros respectively.

Further links

👉 www.zeiss.de 
👉 ZEISS Women Award

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