Women in Science - Impressions from women in Interreg South Baltic projects
In cross-border cooperation we want to find joint solutions together - NGO's with governments, enterprises with municipalities, men and women in projects working together - across national borders. While in many scientific domains women are still underrepresented, Interreg asks about the project's impact on equality between men and women in every project selection process.
But how are women in Interreg experiencing their everyday work life in scientific Interreg projects?
And what do they wish other women and girls in science?
We have asked 5 women from 5 countries.
Find out who they are before reading their inspiring words:
How do you like running a scientific EU project?
Dorota Pyć: Running an international project is very inspiring every day of its implementation and can give us plenty of opportunities to meet fascinating people. And it also allows us to exchange experiences as well as find alternative paths to solve difficulties in some cases. We can also achieve something new, enabling sustainable creation of the future, important even if it is a small step in development.
Åsa Davidsson: It's fun, interesting and you learn a lot about how EU and Interreg works (it’s our first Interreg project as lead partner). I’m one of two project leaders of the Less is more project. The other project leader is a man – and it works really good! :)
Karin Topsø Larsen: Scientific EU projects can be difficult – it takes a while to get to know other people and you need to learn something about the context or the background of their knowledge before you can truly understand what they are bringing into the project (and what you need to bring into the project). Once this baseline is created, international projects are richly rewarding. As a project participant you learn so much about the project subject because you come to understand how it unfolds and develops – sometimes similarly, sometimes differently – in different national and regional contexts.
Rasa Viederytė: Research EU projects provide huge opportunities for professional growth, bring new inter-personal contacts and working experiences, as well as helping to solve raised scientific questions and adapt their solutions to wider demanding societies. I love as well to meet and get in touch with foreign experts, having different world-experience-task perception, and this is how I expand my field of cognition in general and limits of tolerance.
Andrea Schüch: It is great to work in an EU project! It's not only the try to share knowledge, to search together for solutions and to solve common problems, it's also great to get to know new people and countries. Often these contacts become friendships. I'm working for more than 10 years in international projects, but especially in Baltic teams the atmosphere is open-minded, cordial and fair, the work problem-oriented and pragmatic.
Do you feel your gender makes a difference in your daily work?
Dorota Pyć: Gender usually plays a significant role in our lives and education, in particular in interpersonal communication and listening to the expectations of others. Women bring true passion and ordinary patience to science. Women of science are also characterized by exceptional diligence and devotion to ideas towards their practical application.
Åsa Davidsson: Usually not in daily work. My working group is a mix of men and women and I feel that we treat each other equally, regardless of gender.
Karin Topsø Larsen: Yes and no. I don’t think about my gender at all on a daily basis. I do my work, I use my knowledge, my experience, my energy and I use my personality in all that I do. None of those aspects and all of those aspects are gendered. It is only when I come across situations where I feel that what I say is not as respected as it should be – and then I start to consider `why´. And the question of gender pops up. If I am in a meeting with almost all men when this situation arises, I start to think mabye I am not presenting my argument strongly enough, maybe I need to use a diffferent body language. All of a sudden, I feel that a male culture does exist. But I must say, this is an exception that I only experience very rarely. Of course, female cultures also exist – but this is a space that I can navigate in more easily and therefore take more for granted.
Rasa Viederytė: In my daily work I have strong co-working power jointly with my male colleagues, and truly I am happy about not feeling any competition, gender exclusion or discrimination patterns. Professional relationships, knowledge, skills and motivation are factors that eliminates sexuality, emphasizes humanity and inspires collaborative work that can be successfully accomplished by both genders in a team-working style.
Andrea Schüch: Yes, surely. I think that women and girls have a different strategy to solve problems and often better communication skills than men. A good and balanced mixture of gender surely contributes to a good working atmosphere.
What are you most proud of?
Dorota Pyć: I am really happy when other people are satisfied with my work and can take something from it for themselves - something that will be useful to them. For this reason, I like to organize and conduct specialized interactive training.
Åsa Davidsson: Not sure. The fact that I am a woman and work within engineering science contributes of course to increasing equality within a field that historically has been male dominated.
Karin Topsø Larsen: My PHD project studied the role of the Danish vocational education and training system and how students from peripheral areas can navigate the mobility demands made on them during their education. I now see that my findings – and my suggested policy changes – are being listened to and changes are being implemented that address the questions and problems that my work drew attention to.
Rasa Viederytė: I am proud of trust, which is expressed by my colleagues, working in different even not related fields of duties. And I am proud of being able to connect with and gain the confidence of young people.
Andrea Schüch: I am proud to be a reliable partner, to be able to share my knowledge and to learn every day. I'm proud that I'm fit in handling SL2014. I'm happy and proud that I got friends in the Baltic Sea region from running and finished projects.
As today is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science: What do you wish other women and girls in science?
Dorota Pyć: I wish all women and girls the joy of life, good ideas and fruitful cooperation with other people.
Åsa Davidsson: A nice day with lots of successful achievements!
Karin Topsø Larsen: I think it’s important that girls and women don’t hold back. Go for what you believe in. Sometimes the barriers we meet are invisible and if you don’t constantly push the boundaries of what you do and what you believe you can do, you end up imposing a sort of self-censorship - afraid to speak up, perhaps thinking that your knowledge, your experience and your values are not as important as the other persons’ in the room. There is no knowledge that you have generated – or helped to generate – that exists until people know about it. So SPEAK UP!
Rasa Viederytė: On our daily routine let’s spend some time for self-education and for not choosing the easiest way, but rather challenging to inspire ourselves to be more motivated, to have more sustainable professional ambitions, to strengthen our abilities for critical thinking and to educate ourselves in personalities. At the same time let’s try to balance all responsibilities for work, family and public life.
Andrea Schüch: I wish, that the gender makes no difference in science and that the often shown restraint in women and girls will not be misunderstood as inability. I wish that a scientific career and family (especially to have children) will be easier to balance - projects and deadlines are not waiting! I wish women and girls the courage to defend their own ideas and findings and to follow their own way and to enjoy it!
We also wish all women and girls, as well as all men and boys, alot of success in joint cooperation!