It isn’t always necessary to set quotas for women employees

Women make up more than 30% of the blast furnace metallurgy team, making it a pioneer at Steel Europe

Metallurgist Janaina Brum and laboratory coordinator Peter Reicherseder check samples.

There are areas of the company which are ahead of their time – also in demographic terms: Women make up more than 30% of the blast furnace metallurgy team in the hot metal unit, an interface between blast furnace operations and process engineering. Five of the total of 14 employees are women, all of whom are highly skilled. Dr. Alexandra Hirsch heads the team, which tests the metallurgical properties of blast furnace charge materials such as coke, sinter, lump ores and pellets: “My team includes nine men and five women – including myself there are three metallurgists, a mechatronics specialist and a laboratory technician, who is currently studying process engineering at evening classes,” says Dr. Hirsch.

The women are also still relatively young, between 20 and their mid 30s – this is unique in the company. “Whether you’re a man or a woman, everyone is treated equally here – what counts most are the qualifications, performance and team skills of each and every member. We respect each other as colleagues. Young and old complement each other, irrespective of gender,” says Hirsch. Laboratory coordinator Peter Reicherseder confirms that the combination works extremely well: “We have generally become more considerate of each other as more women have joined the team, but otherwise we don’t differentiate, and women are challenged just as much as their male colleagues. This also includes ensuring that everyone can operate the cranes and industrial trucks.” So how did this unusual constellation come about? “We have numerous contacts with various universities and a large number of interns who are interested in our work,” explains Hirsch. “It was simply the case that the right candidates were found for vacant positions – and they just happened to be women.”