herCAREER: How did you manage to gain a foothold in the academic world as a researcher and leader?
Christelle Al Haddad: I think that joining the academic world came very natural to me, as I have always been curiosity-driven, enjoyed reading, researching, so I enjoyed being a researcher, without really knowing it. My master’s thesis gave me a first understanding of what research would really look like, and I really enjoyed working independently on a topic of my interest, namely human factors in the context of mobility. After that, I had the chance to work as a research associate, in the same environment. The more I researched, the more I liked it. I think the rest is history. When you enjoy doing something, you keep pursuing it.
I must add that the academic environment I was surrounded by, in particular the support and motivation I received from my supervisor, were really crucial for me to prosper in this field.
At the Technical University of Munich and in my academic environment, there have always been many opportunities to grow. And this is what I did, grow from a master’s student, to a researcher, a PhD Candidate, a team leader, etc.
herCAREER: Why do you see many opportunities for females in this environment?
Christelle Al Haddad: I think engineering in general, and engineering research, where I come from, in particular, are male-dominated areas. However, I have to acknowledge that currently a lot of efforts are being made, both regionally and internationally, to close the gender-gap in research. I see a lot of opportunities for women in this environment, and these opportunities will increase if more female researchers take a leading position, inspiring young women to follow their path and to believe it is indeed possible to reach far.
herCAREER: What advice would you give to young female researchers who aspire to a leadership role?
Christelle Al Haddad: My advice would be to really follow your passion, regardless of the field. There is a place for everyone, everywhere. Another practical tip would be to connect and talk with other like-minded women and successful leaders, to hear their stories, get inspired, and plot your path for success.
Of course, there is a long way to go to close the gender gap in different fields, but I believe we are doing much better already and we should be aware of that and keep going forward.
herCAREER: At herCAREER, the focus is on professional exchanges, which is based on the personal experiences and the knowledge of the sparring partners. As an organizer, it is also in our best interest to support women beyond the exhibition and make our networks accessible. We would therefore like to ask you if you would also act as a sparring partner in addition to the expo participation. If so, we would ask you to name the topics for which you would act as a sparring partner in bullet points.
- topics in relation to research, academia in general
- mobility, transport, road safety
- emerging transportation systems
- behavioral modeling
herCAREER: Are there any topics on which you personally are looking for a sparring partner and would like to continue a professional and personal exchange? Then name keywords for your topics.
- technical consulting
- gender equity
- sustainable development
herCAREER: Would you also act as a mentor in the herCAREER community and, if so, which women would you like as mentees?
Christelle Al Haddad: Someone, who is willing to act as a mentor for young women wishing to pursue a PhD in engineering, in particular in transportation, to provide them with an idea of what to expect, especially in Germany, and the different means they can be funded from. The ideal mentees would be Master students in their first or second year, interested in the above-mentioned topics; in case the topic of research is different, I can provide general mentoring about what to expect from research and academia in Germany, but this information might not be fully applicable in all of the cases.
Use one of the ways to contact the interviewee and refer to the herCAREER community interview.