Christiane Nusslein-Volhard Quotes.
I was born during the war, on October 20, 1942, as the second of five children. My father, Rolf Volhard, was an architect.
The pressure on kids is high to get good grades. In my time, no one cared about it. My father looked at them but he didn’t really make much fuss about them.
Successful women are not liked. I think the biggest danger for women in science is colleagues who are not as good as you are.
I think women who are pretty certainly have an advantage in any field, in any profession. When a girl is born people still say: Oh, I’m glad that she is pretty. They don’t look at whether she is intelligent.
If woman wants to have kids and work a little less she has a big disadvantage compared to a male colleague who has a stay-at-home wife packing his suitcases.
I had a very intense relationship with my father, who was always extremely interested in what we kids were doing. I actually think the secret of many successful women is having a father who encourages them.
I think women are just as gifted when it comes to science as men are. But I think their wishes and desires are different and this is also shaped by the society in which they live.
I know labs where women refuse to make a coffee for others because they don’t want to be seen doing seemingly female things. I think this is stupid. Why not make a coffee, bring a cake? I do it.
It is very important for me to be taken seriously for my science and not for my looks or other personal accomplishments.
People think if you have deciphered the genome of humans that you can change everything. But you cannot change everything, because you do not know what the genes mean, and you have no methods for changing them, and you can’t do experiments with humans like you can with animals.
Humans are something very different from animals, and the numbers required to get cloning to work in animals are completely prohibitory with humans.
Everyone thinks I must have been an ace in school. But I didn’t work hard, I was lazy. I liked to be lazy. I thought laziness stimulated your imagination.
I think there are profound differences between women and men. In intelligence and creativity, there is no difference, but in what one loves, what one likes, the passions – there are differences.
I immediately loved working with flies. They fascinated me and followed me around in my dreams.
The drive to want to know is innate in people. You cannot influence this. I think in contrast it is harmful if you push kids too far in a particular direction.
At the time I finished high school, I was determined to study biology, deeply convinced to eventually be a researcher.
I had a happy childhood, with many stimulations and support from my parents who, in postwar times, when it was difficult to buy things, made children’s books and toys for us. We had much freedom and were encouraged by our parents to do interesting things.
I think there is too much attention on mentoring. If people want to be scientists, they will figure out how to do it. They need to figure it out by themselves.
I was raised with this idea of hard work and keeping doors open. To be able to choose what you want to do in the future. That was what we tried to tell our children, too.
In my age group I don’t know a single woman who is as successful as I am. I am the total exception. You can be very proud of it. But you are also very isolated.
I remember that already as a child I was often intensely interested in things, obsessed by ideas and projects in many areas, and in these topics I learned much on my own, reading books.
In German science, we have a special problem. We lose talented women at the time they get pregnant. Some of it occurs because they are encouraged – by their husbands, bosses and the government – to take long maternity leaves.
I immediately loved working with flies. They fascinated me, and followed me around in my dreams.
I am often asked why there is discrimination against women in science. And I have given it some thought. With prejudicial attitudes, you can’t really do much. You can point out when people discriminate and ask them not to.