When Sarah Berner (30) started her apprenticeship in machine mechanics at Geberit in Pottenbrunn (AT), there were few women in this technical profession. Today, as a production forewoman, she leads a diverse team.
A fairground with a carousel and roller coaster makes many a child's heart leap for joy. Sarah Berner from Austria was no different. However, she was not only interested in her own pleasure, but also in the technology of these fairground rides. “I was fascinated by the moving particles and the mechanics that made these vehicles move,“ she says.
At the age of 14, Sarah Berner decided to train as a machine mechanic at Geberit in Pottenbrunn. “I learned classical mechanics. This included the basic properties of substances, the effect of forces and the movement of bodies. Understanding and being able to explain such things still fascinates me today,“ says the now 30-year-old.
Confident despite being outnumbered
The fact that at that time only twelve of the 300 vocational students were girls - didn't bother Sarah Berner. “I always had a good relationship with my male colleagues. That hasn't changed.
She has not experienced any disadvantages as a woman in this technical profession. But: “A healthy self-confidence and assertiveness help. If you don't let it get you down and get the respect you need, you will be noticed.“
First mum, then champion
Sarah Berner has succeeded in this, as her career impressively shows. She worked as a machine setter on the night shift for seven years and completed further training as a master craftswoman in mechanical engineering and automation technology on the side. “I was responsible for retooling and process optimisation of injection moulding machines, for example,“ she explains. When she was offered a management position as a forewoman in production - Sarah Berner was a new mum at the time - she didn't have to think twice. She accepted.
The Austrian now heads a team of 24, about half of whom are women. The proportion of women in the industry is still relatively low. But in production in Pottenbrunn it will be 44 per cent at the beginning of 2023.
The number of girls is also growing in the apprentice workshop there. Sarah Berner is convinced that this also has to do with Geberit's good image. “It is well known that we employ many women in technical professions. The fact that our production halls are well-maintained and the work is made easier by many tools also has a positive influence. Geberit has a good standard in this respect.“