International Women's Day: Celebrating our Female Heroes

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we are honoring women who inspire, influence and challenge us. Below is a collection of personal acknowledgments and stories from people in our TechQuartier ecosystem – from team members to startup founders to women in leadership positions at some of our partner companies. Many of these women are bravely destroying the idea of traditional “women’s roles,” pushing us to a higher level or are empowered girls poised to be the women of the future.

I have two women I’d like to celebrate. The first is my mom. She always taught me to trust myself and follow my strengths to find the right way for me instead of comparing myself to other people. I definitely learned from her how to be tough and strong. The second is my best friend. She is always positive and open-minded, no matter how many situations she has had to overcome.

Miriam Unser (TQ)

I’d like to celebrate Amelia Earhart. For me she was not just an aviation pioneer but also an amazing rule breaker: she refused to be boxed in by her gender and became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic! My 2- and nearly-4 year-old daughters are my real heroes and role models. They think that they can become anything they want to when they grow up – from an astronaut to a mermaid! That’s amazing and I really hope they can keep this confidence!

– Karmela Holtgreve, Head of Digital Office at Deutsche Bundesbank

Ting, Yi Xian Sam's sister

I want to celebrate my sister Ting. She’s the best “thing” my parents ever gave me. I can go on and on about her academic achievements. She’s extremely smart and graduated Georgia Tech with highest honors, but her true gifts are her big heart and humbleness. When I look at her, I see someone strong, pure and sweet. She’s the type of person that works until 5:00 am in the morning, but never fails to call me up every week to catch up. Sometimes all we do is just be there on the phone while we cook or read. She should be celebrated, because she doesn’t know how awesome she is.

Yi Xian Sam (TQ)

I admire every woman who can combine career and family in a way that truly makes her happy and leaves her without feeling guilty about neglecting either her job or kids. Happy to meet them, since I haven’t had the pleasure so far!

– Nora Schimang, CEO CodeDoor

I am inspired by many women around me in many ways as they motivate me to follow my own path and build my career on the basis of my strengths and expertise. I do not have a role model as such, but I was fortunate to have received a lot of encouragement from many different people during my career. Also, I hope to be an inspiration for other women and am always happy to support them, e.g. by mentoring younger colleagues.

I get a lot of inspiration from art, culture and society, from strong women and their exciting stories. Stories of women who prove that there is change happening in our society, who empower other women and girls around them to no longer have to fulfil traditional role model expectations – but to go out and demonstrate creativity, innovation and leadership.

–  Ute König-Stemmler, Head of Business Development at Visa Central Europe

I don’t really have a role model. I’d rather observe personalities, achievements and values that I want to emulate. I want to become the woman I wished I had as a role model. Today the definition of a Woman is still so unclear. There are no real guidelines to follow to become a good woman, a fulfilled woman and an exemplary woman. Sometimes I have the feeling that women are given only restrictions to follow. But restrictions can not lead to a fulfilling life. So in that way having women disrupt the conservative women image is refreshing.

I imagine a strong woman to be someone:

  • Who is caring and loving, fair and against injustice,
  • Who stands up not only for herself but also for others,
  • Who is not held back by others and free in her own decisions,
  • Who has a strong will and
  • Who is independent and chooses her future.

Nikaia Wirth (TQ)

I do not have a single role model. I am rather inspired and fascinated by different individuals, stories and ideas. My sources of inspiration come from everywhere, for example: “Becoming” by Michelle Obama, “The Moment of Lift” by Melinda Gates, Masterclass by Sara Blakely, podcasts with Verena Pausder or Lea-Sophie Cramer, Instagram posts by Amy Schumer or the 2020 BAFTA speech by Rebel Wilson. In addition, my family, friends and colleagues provide great examples on a daily basis.  My little daughter as well – this pure unprejudiced mindset suggesting that everything is possible fascinates me. It is sad that we tend to lose this ability along the way. Her answers to “What would you like to do when you grow up?” vary from being a detective to a gardener to cleaning the streets to recently becoming a “Boss-erIN” – this was her logical way of creating a German word for a “female boss” out of a term which normally exists in a male form only.

In general, I do not differentiate based on gender. When it comes to role models, I am drawn by great minds, characters and, most importantly, values.

– Olga Hamama, Partner V29 Legal

I want to celebrate Malala Yousafzai. She survived a Taliban assassination attempt as retaliation for her activism for girls education, won the Nobel Peace Prize (youngest ever recipient) and continues to be a role model. She fights for the right cause and never gives up, especially withstanding the pressure from dictators and terrorists.

Dominik Zborek (TQ)

Jede Frau, die es schafft, sie selbst zu bleiben und sich nicht zu verbiegen aufgrund von gesellschaftlichen oder beruflichen Normen und Konventionen.


– Lucie Haß, Managing Director at Helaba Digital

A woman I would like to celebrate is Roberta Bondar! She was the first Canadian woman to go to space, and when I was a kid I desperately wanted to be an astronaut too. I had a book about her and read all about how she was the first neurologist to go to space and also an amateur photographer, so she got to study the impact of space travel on the human body and take cool photos of the Earth. My favorite fact about her was that her personal items she brought to the shuttle were a box of Girl Scout cookies and a package of maple candies – she is a true Canadian icon!

Rosemary Harte (TQ)

I look up to my grandma, 82, who is the most positive and life-affirming person I know. In German we have the term “Stehaufmännchen“ – it describes someone who is always looking forward and making the best out of everything, whatever happens. She really is one of those kind of people.

She had to manage quite a lot of difficult situations her life including war, poverty, the loss of her eldest daughter, husband and brother within two years, she defeated cancer and more, but she focuses on the good things instead of bad. She’s one of the brightest souls and strongest characters I know. She’s always smiling and infecting everyone with her laughter. Of course, she is from another generation and really not a feminist in her overall way of thinking. However, she breaks with that old-fashioned mindset occasionally and is quite open for change. She has a boyfriend whom she loves to travel with. She talks about love and sexual matters and is overall very self-confident about herself and her body.

Sabrina also has a daughter, Lilly age 2.

I want to bring up Lilly like how I was brought up, that means giving her wings and freedom to develop and find herself, support her and try to allow her to follow every path she wants to go.

Sabrina Borner (TQ)

I’d like to celebrate Gladys Mae West who was born in 1930 and was a mathematician at the Naval Surface Warfare Center until she retired in 1998.

Her greatness – as copied from Wikipedia.

  • Using complex algorithms to account for variations in gravitational, tidal, and other forces that distorted Earth’s shape, she programmed an IBM computer to deliver increasingly refined calculations for an extremely accurate geodetic Earth model optimized for what eventually became the Global Positioning System (GPS) orbit.  Without that model, and regular updates thereto, the extraordinary positioning, navigation and timing accuracy of GPS would be impossible to achieve. All smart devices used/developed in the world today have been made possible by her.
  • She was one of only four black employees at the time, only two of whom were women. Despite the fact that this was a period when racial segregation was the norm, it was an unusual choice for women and sexism was omnipresent, her determination to find solutions made her stood up for herself and pursued her goals.
  • “The world is opening up a little bit and making it easier for women […] But they still gotta fight.“

Selma Peters (TQ)