"If I can't lift something, I get the crane"
9/26/2023 Young talents Interview

"If I can't lift something, I get the crane"

Alice Jung is a tool mechanic - and office administrator. About 15 years ago she trained in the mould-making industry at her father's company Formenbau Jürgen Jung GmbH. After that, Jung worked in the profession for some time, albeit in a different company. Her path eventually led her back - in part, at least.

Alice Jung

Tool mechanic and office administrator - how does this mix come about?

Alice Jung
: I have always been surrounded by technology. My father, with his own business, is a very big role model for me. My grandfather was a mechanical engineer. It was always clear to me: that's what I want to do. I didn't want a classic "desk job" and trained as a tool mechanic in my parents' company. Now I still work partly at a desk, but that's another story.

What did your training look like?

Alice: I was in classical mould making, i.e. die cast and injection moulds. I did everything: turning, milling, drilling, grinding - by machine and by hand. At that time everything was very manual. And I loved eroding for life. I soon had the nickname "Erodier Queen".

For example, I put the lettering into the gearbox housing for a well-known motorbike and happened to see the model on the road at some point. I was aware it could have come from another die-cast, but that wasn't the point. I knew that I had eroded this lettering. It's there because I did it right. I was really proud of that.

You were the only woman in the company. Was that an issue back then?

: I didn't used to think so much about gender relations myself, but I think traditional ways of thinking play a really big role. The education itself was tough, very tough. There were moments when you doubted yourself. But I don't think that has anything to do with being male or female. My male colleagues certainly doubted too, but perhaps at other points.

What motivated you to keep going?

Alice: I must honestly say that I received a lot of support, also from the other trainees. We helped each other as a matter of course. In my intermediate exam, we had to build a small device and I was missing screws. Without them, it wouldn't work. That was the end of the line, I failed.

Another apprentice heard me swearing and after a short back and forth he threw screws at me without me having to say it. I caught it, put it on and bang: function given. I still get goosebumps when I talk about it because it was just a beautiful moment. And that's exactly how it was during the whole training. I would have liked to have known beforehand that the solidarity was so strong.

Is there anything else you wish you had known beforehand?

Alice: I was actually already clear, but still: The tone is rough. It's not picking flowers. And the greater the stress, the harsher it can get. It's never directed at you personally. When the situation is over, you have your after-work beer joking.

But I also have to honestly say that through these situations I knew I belonged. Simply because my colleagues talked to me the same way they talked to everyone else in the workshop. I never wanted any special treatment or to be restricted to my gender. And that didn't happen either.

Alice Jung in action
Women are inferior to men in tool technology, is that true?

: No, not at all. Not physically anyway, because then I just get an extension and tighten the screw that way. It's then tighter than a colleague could ever get it with muscle power. And if I can't lift something, then I just get the crane. No one can take away that feeling afterwards of having overcome or achieved something.

My instructor in the training workshop always said to me: Honestly, who is supposed to believe in you if you can't even do it yourself? I often had to think about that in difficult moments.
What would have helped you in your training?

: Simply a greater awareness that companies want girls in the company. The trainer or vocational school teacher must also take on this role. That one simply creates the space for this "female energy" and communicates that. One should simply normalise such things more, because that is normal. Anyone who says otherwise is living in the wrong age.

How do you create awareness?

: This article, for example, will be read mainly by those who are already in the industry. Maybe also someone who needs the article - but probably not at the right time. With the right network, you could pick up these people in a much more targeted way, encourage them or even simply make them the offer that you will listen to them and share your own experiences with them.

What do you say to girls who are interested in technical professions?

Alice: If you want something, no matter who or what you are, you go out there and then you get it. It has everything to do with a bit of courage, but definitely not with what you define yourself as. Bad news: You won't be perfect every first time. And don't be irritated if the tone is a little rougher. It's forgotten two minutes later anyway. 

Do you have a message for companies and businesses?

Alice: Communicate your acceptance. Without spending a lot of resources, every company can clearly say: "We want you here. What you can't do, we can do and we'll teach you." The important thing is that the intentions are honest. Otherwise, just be open - that's what you're asking the girls to do.
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Editors EUROGUSS 365