zdi heroines October

Every year in October, projects and topics related to MINT and girls and young women are the focus of zdi.NRW. It's been a busy month on national networks and social media.

The image has a decorative function. It shows a red-haired girl doing various manual work.


Here you will find articles about our zdi heroines throughout the year:

The photo shows a boy wearing VR glasses. He is standing in front of a futuristic looking lamp.

zdi.NRW at the future day in the state parliament

At the future day in the North Rhine-Westphalia state parliament, girls and boys were able to find out about jobs in which their gender has tended to be underrepresented so far. zdi.NRW was represented with many stands.

Pupils at the zdi girls camp

6 tips for STEM girls work...

With a stable proportion of girls of around 45% in the zdi measures carried out, the MINT girls' work at zdi.NRW has proven to be particularly successful. Which measures contribute to this?

The photo shows the participants in the panel discussion. They stand side by side in a row and smile at the camera.

"Electrical engineering instead of Bibi's Beauty Palace"

On March 31, the research team from "gender2technik" presented the results of the "Electrical engineering instead of Bibis Beauty Palace" project. The question: How does technical journalism become interesting for girls and young women? During the panel discussion that followed, Kerstin Helmerdig from the zdi regional office discussed the results with other experts.

Screenshot of the conversation between Jenny Kociemba, Gwendolyn Paul and Elita Wiegand

In an interview: Jenny Kociemba and Elita Wiegand, jurors of the zdi-Science League

Gwendolyn Paul from the zdi regional office talks to Eilta Wiegand and Jenny Kociemba about their job as jurors at the Science League and how competitions can not only inspire STEM, but also do STEM girls work.

Photo shows Nuria Robles.

International Day of Women and Girls in Science

We took the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on February 11, 2023 as an opportunity to talk to FabLab manager Nuria Robles about her work, the importance of international networking and the fun of designing.


In zdi-Heldinnen-Oktober we present girls and women from the STEM field who shared their personal experiences and impressions of STEM with us. These zdi heroines represent the diversity of STEM women and show girls and young women interested in STEM potential areas of activity. We are always looking for zdi heroines - feel free to contact us! 

Would you like to support young women in the MINT field with your company, network or as an individual? Then talk to us, we will be happy to advise you! Here you will find our contact persons.

zdi heroines october polaroids

All Polaroids at a glance

zdi heroines October 2022

STEM women for sustainability

zdi heroines October 2021

Entrepreneurs in the MINT field

zdi heroines October 2020

women in science

zdi heroines October 2019

Female role models

zdi heroines October 2022

The heroines October 2022 is under the zdi annual motto trap | Reduce | Recycle – Make new from old! In interviews, portraits and polaroids on the zdi portal and on ours Social media channels we let MINT women have their say who are committed to sustainability and environmental protection or who talk about their careers in the MINT field.

zdi girls camp

How can we get girls interested in STEM (mathematics, computer science, natural sciences and technology)? What wishes, requirements and ideas does the target group itself have? And why are some sciences more popular with girls than others? The first zdi girls' camp in Frechen on October 28 revolved around these and other questions.

In 11 workshops, around 140 schoolgirls discussed with activists from zdi networks and worked out solutions together. As operators of extracurricular learning locations throughout North Rhine-Westphalia, it is particularly important to them that their courses appeal to girls and young women. The proposed solutions could be implemented directly in practice - for example in test series on the subject of photosynthesis or in the racing simulator.

On the zdi community platform mint-community.de A group was set up in which the participants can continue to work on their ideas and approaches after the event. The complete documentation of the event and evaluation of the results will be published here on zdi-Portal.de in a timely manner.

From left to right: District Administrator Frank Rock, Mayor Susanna Stupp, Minister Ina Brandes, student Lena Engel, chemical laboratory assistant Pia Münstermann and coordinator of the zdi center Mönchengladbach, Axel Tillmanns.
Motivated greetings and lively participation in the panel discussion: District Administrator Frank Rock, Mayor Susanna Stupp, Minister Ina Brandes, student Lena Engel, chemical laboratory assistant Pia Münstermann and coordinator of the zdi center Mönchengladbach, Axel Tillmanns. (from left to right) ©zdi.NRW 2022

Portraits of STEM women

Pia Munstermann

From the zdi course to the Max Planck Institute

If you ask Pia Münstermann how she got to where she is now, her answer sounds quite simple at first: perseverance and diligence! But the will to succeed is not always enough. It also needs outside support. In the zdi heroine portrait, we show Pia Münstermann's path from a student with a great interest in chemistry to becoming a chemical laboratory assistant at the renowned Max Planck Institute for Coal Research.

Monika Lichtinghagen-Wirths

In an interview: The managing director of the Bergisches Waste Management Association

Since 2003, Monika Lichtinghagen-Wirths has been the managing director of the Bergisches Waste Management Association. Since 2010 she has also been responsible for the project as a project manager :metabolon project, which as an extracurricular place of learning is closely linked to the local zdi networks. In the podcast "It's all happening now - the future of the circular economyIn an interview with podcast host Anja Kuhn, Monika Lichtinghagen-Wirths provides information on current topics in the circular economy, explains terms such as "circular value creation" and goes into the work of the Leppe landfill.

Sophie Charlotte Keunecke

Passionate mechatronics engineer

Sentences like "Computer science isn't for girls!" are not just nonsense. In view of the STEM skills shortage, this attitude is even problematic. It has long been clear that women in technical professions can also stand up for themselves. One of these women is Sophie Charlotte Keunecke. She programmed her first robot at the age of twelve and is now a doctoral student at the Institute for Transmission Technology, Machine Dynamics and Robotics at RWTH Aachen University. The 26-year-old has specialized in robotics and conducts research in the field of automation technology.

Nina Woicke

In an interview: process engineer Dr. Nina Woicke

Nina Woicke is a process engineering engineer, freelance consultant and product developer. She is passionate about very special plastics and their practical applications. Which plastics are involved? why Plastic per se is not "evil" and like Nina Woicke came to study engineering - she discussed this with Sandra Fleckenstein in the #ResearchersFriday Podcast spoken.

zdi heroines October 2021

In 2021 we will declare October again zdi heroines month, this time with a focus on female entrepreneurs and founders from the skilled trades, digital sector and clothing industry.

For a month, the STEM community will highlight the gender-sensitive Course offers the zdi networks and zdi school labs. In the Social media we let a large number of MINT women have their say and show every day how exciting and multifaceted MINT professions and study subjects are for girls. At the same time we would like to enable the NRW and nationwide exchange and organize one symposium, where representatives from business, science and politics can exchange ideas with schoolchildren and MINT actors.

MINT women in the company

Barbara Hagedorn

Moving mountains in people's heads, not only on the construction site - Interview with Barbara Hagedorn

Barbara Hagedorn is an entrepreneur and, together with her husband Thomas, runs the Hagedorn group of companies, one of the largest demolition companies in the world and all-round service provider in the areas of demolition, disposal, civil engineering and land revitalization. She describes herself as a mother, managing director, front woman, controlled whirlwind, communicative, honest, warm and committed. zdi.NRW met Barbara Hagedorn for an interview and talked to her about women in the construction industry, entrepreneurial independence and female recruiting.

Zerrin Borcek

Female empowerment in the digital industry - Interview with Zerrin Börcek

Zerrin Börcek is the founder of the fe: male innovation hub. As a STEM enthusiast and zdi heroine, she has set herself the goal of getting girls and young women interested in STEM subjects. She is 41 years old and graduated from the RWTH Aachen Technical Communication with communication sciences and computer science. On the occasion of the zdi heroines October, we spoke to her about how more young women can be prepared for self-employment in the digital economy and which traditional thought structures they have to struggle with. Her credo: learn to face prejudices with acceptance and just get started!

Anna Burst and Victoria Gebhart

Pants, plasters, car seats: textile and design engineers Anna Burst (textile engineer) and Victoria Gebhart in an interview

How is a sweater actually made? What is a patch made of? And what does a bicycle have to do with textiles? Anna Burst (textile engineer) and Victoria Gebhart (design engineer), both active at FEMNET, talk about their way to the job. The interview is provided by the editors of lizzynet.de available on the occasion of the zdi heroines October.

Marion Meissner

Dream job master roofer – a portrait of Marion Meissner

A metallic click, then the gate to the courtyard of the Master roofer company Meusch in Bergheim. What at first glance looks like a normal semi-detached house in the city of 60.000 is home to a traditional business that has been family-owned for four generations and is now run by a woman: Marion Meissner...On the occasion of the zdi-Helden-October we have Marion Meissner in Bergheim and talked to her about the hurdles for women in the trades, her calling and the way to entrepreneurial independence.

Fachtag 3malM Girls like STEM!

"Girls like STEM": There are too few girls and women in MINT professions. Not news, but a growing concern given the STEM skills gap has risen to around 262.000 people. In order to draw attention to the urgent topic, zdi.NRW created the zdi heroines October. This year, too, the community in NRW dealt intensively with the question of why girls and women are less likely to choose a STEM career and what can be done about it. A highlight of this year: the first zdi specialist day "Girls like MINT", which gave a strong boost to the nationwide exchange.


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Under the magnifying glass

Topic dossier | Female entrepreneurs in the STEM field

Women are underrepresented in entrepreneurship. The reasons for this are diverse. Too few role models, difficult access to financing options, unfavorable political framework conditions. But self-employment offers women numerous advantages - also and especially in the STEM field.

The image has a decorative function and shows the abbreviation MINT.

zdi heroines October 2020

The Dezember 2020 was once again proclaimed zdi heroines month. This year we are focusing on scientists from NRW who are making the world a little bit better with their research. Once again we are putting the outstanding work of the zdi networks and student laboratories in the spotlight, letting a large number of STEM women have their say in zdi.NRW's social media and showing every day how exciting and multifaceted the STEM field is for girls . 

Female scientists in portrait

dr Silke Britzen

Black Hole Suction - Dr. A portrait of Silke Britzen

Invisible, black and extremely attractive - black holes are one of the greatest mysteries of the universe and defy our imagination. dr Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn has been researching the mysterious objects in the universe for almost twenty years. And was instrumental in the scientific sensation of recent years: the first image of a black hole.

Prof. Dr. Martina Havenith

The fascination of water – Prof. Dr. Martina Havenith on her passion for research

What motivates women to do research? How do you experience working as a scientist? And what advice do you give to young girls who are interested in STEM? zdi.NRW answers these questions during the zdi heroines October by presenting researchers from NRW who can serve as role models for others.

Prof. Dr. Sabrina Eimler

The human factor – Prof. Dr. Sabrina Eimler on the role of psychology in computer science

What motivates women to do research? How do you experience working as a scientist? And what advice would you give to young girls who are interested in MINT? zdi.NRW answers these questions during the zdi heroines October by presenting researchers from NRW who can serve as role models for others. 

Prof. Dr. Petra Kleinbongard

A biologist follows the call of the heart - Prof. Dr. Portrait of Petra Kleinbongard

Like many women of her generation, Petra Kleinbongard, who was born in the 1970s, studied biology. She then found her professional destiny in medicine: Today she is deputy head of the Institute for Pathophysiology at the University Hospital in Essen and researches how the heart can be better protected against damage caused by an infarction. And she encourages other young women to venture into the "elbow society" of medicine.

Spotlight Stories

Our zdi networks and zdi school labs have been doing excellent work for girls and MINT for years. We are therefore taking the zdi heroines October as an opportunity to refer to special concepts and approaches. Let's start with these four spotlight stories.

Spotlight Story

MINT4Girls in the school laboratory

A spotlight story from the zdi center in Bottrop

Spotlight Story

Recommendations for girls & STEM

A spotlight story from the zdi center per MINT GT

Spotlight Story

girls in business

A spotlight story from the zdi center m³ in Münster

Spotlight Story

STEM Scholarships for Girls

A spotlight story from the zdi center in Cologne

Under the magnifying glass

Topic dossier | Women and the Nobel Prize

57 out of 924 – that’s how many (or few) women have been honored with a Nobel Prize in the past 120 years. A shockingly low rate. A change seems to be on the way this year: a total of three women were honored with the highest scientific award. A reason to take a closer look at the role of women in science.

Lise Meitner in conversation.
Lise Meitner in conversation.

zdi heroines October 2019

In order to draw attention to the long-standing commitment of the zdi networks in the field of MINT and girls, we at zdi.NRW have proclaimed October zdi heroines month. For one month, the zdi networks will be the focus of attention with an expanded range of courses on topics related to MINT and girls and young women.

A lot will also happen on social media to reach young people with the campaign and encourage their enthusiasm for science and technology. Every day on Instagram we present a zdi heroine who shares personal experiences and impressions from the STEM field.

Our goal is to support girls and young women to be active in the MINT field with confidence and with a lot of joy.

Female Role Models – The Polaroids

You can find them all here Polaroid overview

Under the magnifying glass

Topic dossier | women in science

In October 2020, the zdi heroines will tell us what it means to be a woman in the STEM field. It is a modern phenomenon that women can make their own decisions about an apprenticeship, a course of study and a career. Last year, zdi.NRW examined the cultural history of women in science to find out why women are still underrepresented in the MINT field.

Your contacts for the zdi heroines October

Kerstin Helmerdig

Isabell Stollenwerk

Susanne Jakobs-Bohack