100 Women of Tomorrow
From Hildegard of Bingen, and Käthe Kollwitz to Claudia Schiffer, from Clara Schumann to Steffi Graf, throughout history German women in all walks of life have made significant contributions to society. Today women in Germany continue to develop leading edge ideas. The place branding initiative “Germany – Land of Ideas” rewarded “100 Women of Tomorrow” in various fields who are helping to shape the future.
Who will be the next groundbreaking woman scientist? Which top woman physicist will leave her mark on science in the future? Who is the woman athlete everyone is waiting for? Which female artist will inspire the art world in the years to come?
There are many women in Germany who with innovative and creative ideas could very well have a lasting impact on economics, society, and politics in the future. The project “100 Women of Tomorrow” aims to draw attention to these female personalities. In fields ranging from art and culture to science and business, female intuition, sensitivity, and communications skills are key competences. The project intends to show that Germany’s women are at the cutting edge in all spheres of society.
Ariane Derks, Managing director of the “Germany – Land of Ideas” initiative, explains the idea behind the project: “Germany needs bright minds and good ideas. Our objective was to showcase 100 women, representative of many other women in Germany, who are pointing the way to the future in the Land of Ideas. As different as the 100 women are, they all have one thing in common: they believe in the power of ideas and that ideas can be implemented.”
The project was initiated by the “Germany – Land of Ideas” initiative together with its cooperation partners BILD am SONNTAG and Scholz & Friends. You can find the complete list of all „100 Women of Tomorrow“ here.
We would like to introduce five women from sport, culture, and science that have made a name for themselves internationally.
Annette Dasch – Opera singer
Initially, she sang around campfires, in the car with her family during holidays, and in her school’s choir, where she explored the nuances of her voice. Today Annette Dasch sings on the great opera stages of Salzburg, Milan, New York, and Bayreuth playing Pamina, Donna Elvira, Gretel, and, most recently, a highly praised Elsa in Wagner’s Lohengrin. Apart from many different music theatre parts, her repertoire includes songs, oratories, and concert pieces. But the soprano’s first love is opera, which, she says, “penetrates people’s innermost layers” more than any other art.
*1976 in Berlin. Lives in Frankfurt am Main
- 1995-99 Studied singing with Josef Loibl, Hochschule für Musik, Munich
- Master Classes with Philip Schulze, Wolfram Rieger, and Helmut Deutsch
- 2000 1st prize Maria Callas Competition, Barcelona
- 1st prize Robert Schumann Contest for Singers, Zwickau
- 1st prize Concours de Genève, Geneva
- 2006 Debut at the Salzburg Festival
- 2009 Debut at the Metropolitan Opera, New York
- 2010 Debut at the Bayreuth Festival
Prof. Michaela Gack, medical researcher for microbiology and immunology
Closing holes in the immune system
It’s rush hour and the underground is packed. To your chagrin, the man next to you coughs, sneezes, and sniffles. While you’re wondering whether he’s passing on flu or a cold virus, your body’s immune system is already active. If it knows the intruders, it alarms a trained reaction force – the cells of the adaptive immune system. If it has never seen the virus before, the guards of the innate immune response come into play. They recognize typical classes of molecules that make us ill and trigger an infection that keeps the pathogens in check.
Medical researcher Michaela Gack studies the signals triggered by two these guards: RIG-I and MDA5. These sensors specialize in RNA viruses such as influenza. Gack wants to better understand the mechanisms with which our body defends itself against such intruders and how viruses counteract them. “It’s a race between pathogens and people,” she says. “If we know the strategies, we can develop new treatments or vaccines against viral infections.”
While she was working on her Ph.D. at Harvard Medical School, Gack found a new molecule in the human immune system: TRIM25. Without TRIM25 the guard protein cannot sound the alarm and thus cannot inhibit invading viruses. As a result, viruses like influenza attack this molecule. Due to her discovery Gack received awards such as the Robert Koch Postdoctoral Award and the GE & Science Prize for Young Life Scientists. Since February 2011, Gack, who is an Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, has been the youngest faculty member at Harvard Medical School. Aptitude alone is not enough to achieve this, she says. “The key to success is enthusiasm.”
*1978 in Coburg. Lives in Marlborough, MA/USA
- 1998 Karl von Frisch Award for outstanding achievements in biology
- 1998–2003 Bayerisches Hochbegabtenstipendium (a scholarship for highly gifted students)
- 2000–2005 Studied molecular medicine at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg
- 2005–2008 Received a doctorate from Harvard Medical School in Boston/USA as part of an International Research Training Group with the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg; Ph.D. with summa cum laude
- 2007 Millipore “Young Cell Signaler 2007” Award; Harvard Dean’s List
- 2008–2009 Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles/USA
- 2009 Otto Westphal Prize of the Germany Society of Immunology for the best PhD in immunology
- Robert Koch Postdoctoral Prize for special achievements in virology
- GE & Science Prize for Young Life Scientists (for Europe)
- 2009–2011 Independent Instructor at the New England Primate Research Center of Harvard Medical School, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
- 2011 Fast Track Programme of the Robert Bosch Foundation
- Since 2011 Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunobiology at Harvard Medical School in Boston/USA
Prof. Dr. Olga Holtz, mathematician
The power of numbers
Only those who see and seize opportunities can be successful. Olga Holtz knows this from experience. In 1996, for example, the young woman from Chelyabinsk at the foot of the Ural Mountains applied for admission to three US universities. Two accepted her. She opted for the University of Wisconsin in Madison, completing a Ph.D. there that caught the attention of mathematicians around the world. Since then, she has been able to pick and choose where to go. Berkeley, for example, where she was appointed professor. But she left again quickly, for Germany.
The number that attracted Holtz to the Berlin Institute of Technology was high: 1 million. That amount was put at her disposal after she received the Sofia Kovalevskaja Award, one of the most valuable academic awards in Germany. She is using the money for a project on number squares (matrices), which can be used to solve equations with millions of unknowns – for instance, to calculate the statics of complex buildings, for weather simulations and space travel, and to regulate traffic flows.
When she is compared with her countrywoman Sofia Kovalevskaja, who made it to the top in the field of mathematics despite resistance from society, she is flattered. “I can identify with many aspects of her life. She didn’t just have numbers in her head.” Having hardly unpacked her suitcase in Berlin, Holtz asked a colleague what choirs there were in the city. A short time later she was singing in the Philharmonic Choir. She likes Bach – mathematical clarity coupled with something indescribable.
But her dream concerns numbers. Ultimately, she strives to have a complete picture of mathematics and all of the connections in it. “Perhaps that’s impossible. In the face of the best ideas we often experience great doubt and humility,” she says. “Then comes the moment of truth.”“
*1973 in Chelyabinsk/Russia. Lives in Berlin
- 1995 Studied applied mathematics at Southern Ural State University/Russia
- 2000 Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison/USA
- 2000–2002 Research Associate for Computer Science at UW-Madison/USA
- 2002–2003 Humboldt Research Fellow at the Berlin Institute of Technology
- 2004–2007 Morrey Assistant Professor at the University of California, Berkeley/USA
- 2006 Sofia Kovalevskaja Prize (endowed with 1 million euros)
- Since 2007 Professor at the Berlin Mathematical School
- 2007–2009 Visiting mathematics professor at the Berlin Institute of Technology
- 2007–2010 Associate Professor at the University of California, Berkley/USA
- 2008 European Mathematical Society Prize
- Since 2008 Member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
- 2009 ERC Starting Grant (880,000 Euros)
- Since 2009 Professor at the Berlin Institute of Technology
- 2009–2010 John von Neumann Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton/USA
- Since 2010 Full Professor at the University of California, Berkeley/USA
Kim Nadine Kulig, professional football player
Kick it like Kulig
Of the “100 Women of Tomorrow”, Kim Kulig gave one of the frankest answers to the question: “If you were a man…?” Her reply: “Doing what I’m doing, I’d earn ten times as much.” Even today, female professional football players in Germany do not get rich. When she was eight years old, Kim Kulig wanted to make her hobby her profession (she was still playing in a boys team at the time). Today the midfielder, who is strong in the air, wants “to play attractive and successful football as long as I can” and then “preferably be the manager of a major football club.”
Kim Kulig doesn’t need to be told what teamwork means. She comes from a big family and had an excellent trainer for life: her mother. “As one of six children, I have great respect for her. She managed our family life extremely well and taught me many things I can still benefit from today.” When asked what she’d like to be able to do better, Kulig, who is a member of Germany’s national women’s football team, laughs: “I’d love to be able to sing!” Kim Kulig has played for FFC Frankfurt in the German first division women’s Bundesliga since the 2011/12 season. On her left forearm, she has a tattoo of the words for “courage and passion” in Arabic. That’s her motto on the field and in life.
*1990 in Herrenberg. Lives in Frankfurt am Main
- 2009 Played on the team that won the Women’s Euro
- 2010 Played on the team that won the U-20 Women’s World Cup. Received the “Bronze Ball” as the third-best player in the tournament
- 2011 Participated in the Women’s World Cup
Souad Mekhennet, journalist
Listening to overtones
Self-proclaimed experts who reduce countries like Egypt to tourism and terror are suspect to Souad Mekhennet. The journalist is interested in nuances that can be only fully grasped at the location – even when she gets teargas in her eyes or has to run from policemen with truncheons. She has repeatedly been in danger. In 2003, for example, she didn’t drive back to Hotel Bagdad in Iraq because the person she was supposed to meet there inexplicably didn’t pick up the phone any more. The hotel was attacked twice at the exact time of the appointment. Or in the winter of 2011, when she and her colleague Nicholas Kulish were among the first foreign reporters to fall into the hands of the secret service during the Egyptian Revolution. She was interrogated in a high-security prison and put under psychological pressure. The day she was released she wrote about her experiences for The New York Times.
When two aircraft crashed into the World Trade Center in 2011, she was just finishing journalism school. There was one question the Moslem with Moroccan roots couldn’t get out of her head: “What drove these men, who like me have Moroccan-Turkish roots, to do a thing like that?” She researched the matter in detail, offered her findings to the German media, but they declined, taking stories by the top dogs instead. At the same time, her contact with the Washington Post slackened, which led her to where she is now, working as a reporter for The New York Times and the German state-owned TV station ZDF. She became known internationally in 2005 when she wrote an exclusive report on the German-Lebanese man Khaled El-Masri, who was mistakenly handed over to the CIA as a suspected terrorist. “I see myself as a mediator between Orient and Occident,” she says. “With my work I aim to help readers and viewers have respect for other cultures.”
*1978 in Frankfurt
- 1999–2001 Attended the Henri-Nannen-Schule in Hamburg
- From 2001 Freelance author for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Der Spiegel, Die Zeit, the Frankfurter Rundschau and Hessischer Rundfunk
- 2001–2007 Studied political science, international relations, sociology, history, and social psychology at Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main
- 2002–2003 Reporter for the Washington Post and National Public Radio
- Since 2004 Reporter for The New York Times and freelance work for ZDF
- 2009 Awarded “Journalist of the Year” in the Reporter category by medium magazine; received the “Young Leader” award from the American Council on Germany
- 2011–2012 “Young Leader” in Europe in the “40 under 40” programme