RUB » Equal Opportunities Portal » Women in Science » Interview with Anja Hartmann

Prof. Dr Anja Hartmann Juniorprofessorin

Short biography:
Anja Hartmann has been teaching and conducting research at RUB since 2000 and has two children aged five and seven.

Guiding principle:
“Questions of science, science and progress, do not speak as loud as my heart”. (Coldplay)

Anja Hartmann

Interview with Anja Hartmann

Ms Hartmann, you are a Juniorprofessor at the Fakultät of Social Science. What does your work involve?

The official title of the Juniorprofessur is Health and Social Structure. My task is to demonstrate connections between social environments, demographic developments, socio-economic statuses, and the health of the population.

My second field of research is health policy; for example, I investigate how health policy reacts to the interconnections I have described. Who are the people driving health policy forward and who holds it back? Who specifically is planning which health reforms? And what are the long-term trends for the German health system? This research is very exciting!

What in particular fascinates you about your field of research?

What’s fascinating about it is the fact that it’s an interdisciplinary research field. As a sociologist, you can’t deal with public health/health science without having a certain interest in natural sciences and medicine, and maybe even in technology. Barriers, such as the ones between body, soul, and spirit – which are often part of academic discussions, including those within the social sciences – come down when you’re working within a field such as health science. That’s very challenging.

Were you already planning an academic career while you were studying?

I was considering academic work, although I never specifically aimed to become a Juniorprofessor. Nevertheless, the thought of a career in academia was attractive to me even in secondary school. I was drawn to the scientific examination of a topic as such, independent of its actual practical benefit.

What was your plan B? What would you have enjoyed doing professionally if you had not become a scientist?

I would have ended up teaching people, whether directly or in an advisory role. Although probably not in schools; more likely in the field of social work.

What do you particularly enjoy about teaching?

I particularly enjoy arousing students’ interest in topics that may at first glance appear almost a bit boring. Seeing how supposedly dry content can bring up very exciting, and even explosive socio-political issues over the course of a seminar.

How do you manage to balance career and family/partnership?

It’s difficult. It’s only possible by making many concessions. You mustn’t imagine that you can be the perfect mother, collecting chestnuts in the autumn (it is early October 2010), attending all parent-teacher meetings, etc. You also have to make concessions at work. You can’t compare yourself to colleagues who are 100% driven and investing 60 hours a week in research and teaching. You’re forced to call it a day: despite unanswered emails, unread documents. I wish there was something like “part-time” professorships. But I can’t see that happening in Germany just yet.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

I do yoga, I like gardening, I read a lot, I like photography. And I would love to travel more if I had the time.

If you were RUB’s rector for a day, what would be the first thing you would do?

First I’d deal with the issue of what would happen if the regional government actually went ahead and got rid of tuition fees. How could I ensure that the established infrastructure and staff resources was maintained?

Fast-forward 10 years into the future: what do you want to have achieved?

The plan is that in 10 years I’ll be holding a full professorship. But I don’t know whether that will actually happen and am keeping my options open.