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Unfortunately, it is a common pattern for intelligent and successful women to be in the shadow of supposedly more famous men.

The name Uğur Şahin has surely come across to some of you during the last three years of COVID. He is the CEO and co-founder of Biontech. And you can easily find a lot of information about him on the internet.

A lot of times only mentioned on the side is his wife: Özlem Türeci. However, Özlem Türeci is also a co-founder and medical director of Biontech. In 2008, they together founded the company, which developed an mRNA-based vaccine against COVID-19 in 2020.

Türeci's career is impressive. Born in Siegen in 1967, she later studied human medicine at Saarland University in Homburg and then earned her PhD at the Saarland Medical Faculty in 1992. During her time as a postdoctoral fellow and Heisenberg Fellow of the German Research Foundation, she focused on the identification and characterization of tumor-specific molecules and on the development of immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer. In 2022, she was made an honorary citizen of Mainz. With twenty years of professional experience, she is a respected figure in her field and serves as the president of CIMT, the largest European association for cancer immunotherapy.

Okay, maybe Özlem Türeci doesn't like being in the spotlight. Nevertheless, in 2020, Google search turned this top researcher into just the "wife of...", which caused a well-deserved minor scandal.

There are other cases like Özlem Türeci's where there are problems with Google's algorithms and women are defined by their husbands first. For a while, Hillary Clinton was only known as the "former U.S. First Lady" instead of highlighting her positions as a former U.S. presidential candidate and Secretary of State. It is important to know that these Google algorithms arise out of the range of media coverage provided, which in turn may mean that Türeci is generally portrayed in the media as being in the shadow of her husband.

Then one may rightfully ask: If female scientists are not visible, how are they supposed to become role models and encourage other girls and women to go into STEM fields themselves.

There is an urgent need for catching up in terms of female role models in STEM fields. We want to provide a small selection of names for you to research on your own:

Deceased Women Scientists:
#AdaLovelace #RosalindFranklin #LiseMeitner #HedyLamarr #Chien-ShiungWu #MarieCurie #GraceHopper #EmmyNoether #KatherineJohnson #MaryamMirzakhani #MaryJackson #WalentinaTereschkowa #ClaraImmerwahr

Current Female Scientists:
#AndreaGhez #MaiThiNguyen-Kim #HayatSindi #JaneGoodall #ÖzlemTüreci #MaeJemison #SherylSandberg #SylviaEarle #JillTarter #TieraFletcher #ChristianeNüsslein-Volhard

* Spiegel Online (2020) https://bit.ly/40YraKm
* https://www.leopoldina.org/