Asst.Prof. Dr. Birgit Forgó-Feldner
Where did you study law?
I studied law in Vienna.
In short, please describe your career steps?
My career at the university started quite early as I started to work as a student assistant at the law faculty of the university of Vienna. I then had the rare opportunity of continuing my career in this field.
In short, what were the obstacles in your career path?
Using the metaphor of a path: In fact, there were no real obstacles, no deep holes and no big rocks blocking the way. Nevertheless, I did take some winding roads: As the first person in my family to attend university, I was not well prepared for the climb to the top. Later, on my way I carried two small children. When they grew up we walked together, slower than other people of course, with more breaks and with a lot of interest and fun. Perhaps we three did not have as much as fun as other families as my husband and father of the two worked for nearly twenty years abroad, climbing up some high roads there (and nevertheless joining us on some parts of our trip).
In which position / company / institution are you currently working?
I work as assistant professor at the University of Vienna.
What is your take on work-life balance?
I try to live a mixture between work and family, which is facilitated as I am lucky to have some close friends within my colleagues. I am lucky to recreate quite quickly, mostly in taking a walk through the woods.
What is your motivation to speak at “Women in Law”?
My motivation to speak up is the importance of the topic.
When I started as a student I had only one female professor (for canon law). I got my first assignment to work for a male professor. He had five kids. Nobody asked about this parental duty. He had a well-organised housewife. There was no issue at all for him having a career on the one side and having five kids on the other side.
The situation changed in a certain way. There are no professors married to housewives any more. In the meantime, we have nearly 30 percent female professors at our faculty. But is this a good rate, nowadays, within the public sector? The private sector is worse: Following the latest news the percentage of the female management Board members in Austria is even sinking.
We do have (constitutional) laws on equal treatment. However, in Austria the diaper changing tables are fixed in the toilet rooms for the ladies. It is the common part of the mothers to take care of the school activities of their kids. Thirty percent of the Austrian women are working part-time (and only 7 percent of the Austrian men). The gender pay gap is growing. The divorce rate is over 40 percent.
There is no discussion about the issue to have a career and to be a good parent – if we talk about the fathers. But it’s a great topic if we talk about the mothers. And that is the difference.