International Day of Women and Girls in Science: Interview with Biljana Angelova, Rector of UKIM

11 February marks the International Day of Women and Girls in Science – a day where we want to highlight and honour women everywhere for their contributions to the advancement of science all around the globe. We are delighted to speak about the topic with the second women rector in the entire history of Macedonian oldest and most successful University, “Ss. Cyril and Methodius, Prof. D-r Biljana Angelova. Interview of POLICY ANSWERS local partner, Foundation for Management and Industrial Research (MIR).

MIR: UKIM is dedicated to promoting positive values of non-discrimination and equality, as guaranteed, among others, by its Statute and Gender Equality Plan. What targeted actions for long-term structural change are being planned for strengthening women’s participation in science? What are your priorities in this regard?

Biljana Angelova: The Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje (UKIM) is committed to guaranteeing the equality, non-discrimination and inclusiveness as it has already been stipulated in its Statute and Gender Equality Plan. UKIM has declared to support equal opportunities for women and men in research and innovation and has been working on promoting and strengthening equality and equal participation of its students and academics, as well as the administrative staff in all different spheres of the University, enabling them full access to information, facilities, mobilities and networking.

The priority has been placed on the promotion of equal gender fairness in all aspects of functions of UKIM: the education and teaching, research, equality in scientific and research careers and the leaderships. This definitely contributes to enhance the quality and improvements of both the education and scientific work at the University. It is evident nowadays that this has resulted in increased number of women’s participation in science and research projects.

MIR: Women remain under-represented in STEM fields. Why do you think it is important for more women to enter STEM? How can universities foster greater participation of women in research and innovation?

Biljana Angelova: UKIM actively works on supporting and promoting women carriers, especially in STEM. It is of importance the number of their career and professional developments in these fields to be increased and supported. According to me, the increased diversity and participation of women in STEM is very much significant for their inclusion, progressing knowledge, investing more skills and experiences in STEM that can lead to creation of more innovative solutions and developments. It contributes to their access to jobs in fast growing industries and more employment opportunities and even become future innovators themselves.

Universities can do a lot about improvements of participation of women in research and innovation thus starting from promotion and awareness campaigns of their active involvement in research, facilitate the access to the laboratories and all other resources, improving collaboration with the industry and private sector especially in STEM fields, organization of events and improving collaborations and networking for supporting women to apply for research projects.

MIR: What message do you want to pass on to young women thinking about pursuing a career in scientific research?

Biljana Angelova: I would like to encourage all young women to follow their life and professional goals believing in what they do and what they would like to be as of their career and professional developments and to work on it. Additionally, I encourage them to educate themselves and to improve and enhance variety of competences and skills that acquire succeed in their future careers.

Working in scientific research offers big opportunities for gaining scientific knowledge, critical and analytical thinking, creativity, improving research and innovation competences which can be beneficial for their own professional and career developments but also an opportunity to contribute to boost the prosperity in the entire society.  

MIR: Thank you very much for your time.

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