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SCIENCE IS FEMININE

27.06.2016

On Saturday 25th of June last roundtable for this Program cycle, in the framework of the program "Share Your Knowledge - Become a Mentor” was held. The topic was the status of women in science in Serbia and the world and about their personal experiences, successes and challenges and was discussed by mentees and mentors and with Marija Lesjak, assistant professor from the Faculty of Sciences in Novi Sad, Jelena Milić, Research Fellow at the Institute of Chemistry, Technology and Metallurgy Belgrade, Adriana Zaharijević, Research Fellow at the Institute for Philosophy and Social theory in Belgrade and Aleksandra Konjević, assistant professor at the Faculty of Agriculture in Novi Sad. The discussion was moderated by our alumna Tatjana Nikolić.


At the beginning of the discussion all speakers agreed that women do not have a good position in science, and that can be primarily proved by the statistics: women are in a minority on management positions, although there are more of them at bachelor studies and undergraduate and postgraduate studies. Also, it is just enough to take a look at the number of scientists who have been awarded with Nobel prizes: in more than 100 years there are only 49 women.


Each of the participants shared their personal story on their own road to success in the scientific world, as well as how they continue the struggle with a variety of obstacles and challenges.


Marija among other things, said that in Serbia the biggest problem for scientists in general is a shortage of funds and emphasized that her mentoring support was very important, not only in professional development, but also on a personal level.


On the other hand, Jelena pointed out that both her mentoring work and support were important, not only through the support of professional work, but also through the lessons learned from the life stories. She conveys to participants that at the beginning is always important to show interest and desire for advancement, because so many doors are open.


Adriana as a humanist gave another view on the same topic, because she referred to the stereotypes that are expressed in science. She also stressed the need for decentralization and the sharing of knowledge and the importance of perseverance and persistence. Different women gave her support through formal and informal work, and survival in science she attributed partly to fortuitous circumstances.


Aleksandra has particularly stressed the importance of personal motivation and a clear goal that leads you through the work that you love. She also emphasized the importance of mentoring work and the sharing of knowledge and experience, what she practices on the daily level by working with students and by guiding them. She said that during the rich work experience particularly helpful is was perseverance.


What is especially emphasized during the presentation of the speakers is that the most important thing, and especially for scientists, who spend a lot of time in the laboratory with chemicals, is prematernity and maternity leave. The scientific community, which is largely composed of women, on their highest positions has men, is leading to a lack of understanding of those women and results in puts their work and commitment to the job in question.


Also, women in science are subject to a number of stereotypes that are out of the social context and patriarchal discourse indent and in the scientific world. What is perhaps most striking for Serbia's tradition of socialism and inherited expectations of the role of women in society, and therefore in their life. What is also pointed out is that there is no single database on the number of women engaged in science, and therefore scientists are disorganized and disunited. Position of young women in science is perhaps particularly difficult because many procedures and projects do not allow the young women to gain experience, build their career and organize their personal life at the same time.

 

They also pointed the need for forming a base of scientist in Serbia, with descriptions of areas in which they work, and that base could serve as a good basis for further work and networking, as well as some institutional changes that are in science more than necessary.


Mentees had many questions for speakers and an interesting discussion about how to preserve its integrity and to fight for the rights in the field of science, where, ironically, women are in the majority.


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