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Women in Science

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Interview excerpt: Katja says she got science ‘with the breast milk’. Her mother was a science teacher and Katja sat in her classes as a child. Her father is an engineer.

Portrait of Katja Gehmlich© Women in ScienceOkay. I would say that I got science with the breast milk because my mum was a science teacher and back in the days there was school, but no child care on Saturday where I grew up (in Eastern Germany). So my mum took me to school and I just sat in the back and somehow absorbed some of the stuff and got interested in it.

How old were you then?

I think she took me there when I was maybe ten, maybe eight and this was how I grew into science. Later when I did my ‘A’ levels, I always wondered whether to do something in science, which I really enjoyed, or something else and I ended up doing science.

So your mum played quite a big part in launching your career in science.

In, in a way, yes, but I think also my dad because my dad is an engineer and when he fixed the car at the weekends, I would just spend time with him, and just watching him. I got to know how to fix one of these old fashioned Trabants, the eastern German cars, which was pretty much a DIY car.