Female Leadership in Science, Business and Society

The Falling Walls Foundation and the Bayer Foundation invited to a mutual networking event in July 2021. The Female Science Talents Gathering offered all participants discussion formats that allow insightful connections with outstanding female leaders and scientists.

We were happy to welcome three powerful female leaders for an hour-long discussion with acclaimed journalist Louisa Reichstetter: Dr. Monika Lessl, Dr. Ingrid Wünning-Tschol and Dr. Sandra Milligan.

Needless to say, our leaders dove right in, answering questions on how to enable female leadership in science, how to deal with dominant male PIs, and how to find the right collaborators on your way to (scientific) success. In regards to the last question, our experts shared from their rich experience of being a female leader in a male-dominated workplace: “Look for affirmative personalities”, Dr. Milligan proposed. “Put yourself in their shoes and always ask why they want to work with you, what is their agenda”, Ingrid Wünning-Tschol added.

The key topic, however, turned out to be one that is all too familiar for every female science talent: The inescapable division of work and family life. Our leaders did not hesitate to answer questions on how to keep a good work-life-balance and how to be both a great mother and a great scientist. And while there may never be a perfect time to get kids, Ingrid Wünning-Tschol’s advice is simple: “Just do it.”


Monika Lessl is the Executive Director of the Bayer Foundation and Senior VP at Bayer AG, responsible for Corporate R&D and Social Innovation, as well as global societal engagement. She has been an initiator of Bayer`s Bioethics council and her passion is to drive innovation and societal transformation for a sustainable future. She is a Non-Executive Board member of Marienhaus GmbH and Futurium, and is engaged with several boards such as the Board of Trustees of the GIZ and the VCI. Monika holds a PhD in Biochemistry and a Diploma in General Management from Ashridge Business School, London. She has been ranked as “Top100 women in Innovation” by Handelsblatt in 2021.

Dr. Ingrid Wünning-Tschol is Senior Vice President Strategic Science Advice at Robert Bosch Stiftung. As a scientist herself, she is concerned about the underrepresentation of women in positions of scientific leadership. Hence, she founded AcademiaNet in 2010. The initiative consists of a database containing profiles of outstanding female researchers.

As the head of research and development for Organon, Dr. Sandra Milligan is leading the advancement of a differentiated portfolio of medicines and solutions to help women and all patients live a better and healthier every day. In her role, Sandy oversees the organization’s scientific, medical and regulatory capabilities in support of its diverse portfolio and long-term vision.

Louisa Reichstetter works as a digital analyst and journalist. The graduate historian is passionate about topics that connect the past and the future. She is also one of the initiators of Frauen.Macht.Führung, where she moderates talks with prominent female role models.

Further Activities to have a look at