Women in Science Profiles

Dr. Helena Smigoc

I am a mathematician. At present I work as a researcher at the University of Dublin. Previously I was a PhD student in research mathematics and prior to that a student in theoretical mathematics. I became drawn to mathematics already in primary school. The one who encouraged me to think about mathematical problems was my father who to me is still a paragon of excellent teaching skills.

My work at the University of Dublin involves teaching and research. The letter is focused on problems in theoretical mathematics, however, the problems I explore have a practical value as well. I am doing research on spectrum of nonnegative matrices. The results in this field of research can be used in biology, economics and technics.

The career of women in science has like any other occupation different advantages as well as disadvantages. Let me first explain why it is nice to be a woman scientist:
• we are paid for doing what we like to do,
• it is a wonderful feeling to be able to present interesting findings no one has come up with before,
• we have flexible working hours,
• we can set our goals by ourselves,
• we participate in international conferences,
• we are allowed to be different,
• we can dress the way we want,
• we get to meet other scientists who are mostly very interesting people,
• there is a chance that we might solve a complicated problem and become famous,
• we have a chance to start our own firm involved in research and become rich,
• the ratio between men and women is quite high.

Of course, being a woman scientist can be hard as well. The reasons for this are:
• long working hours,
• low salaries (compared to lawyers, doctors, accountants, managers or car mechanics),
• it is hard to make plans for the future as it sometimes takes quite a long time to find regular employment,
• administrative tasks,
• we have to find motivation for our work in ourselves,
• the ratio between men and women working in the field of science is quite high.

If I look at this list and mathematically add up the advantages and disadvantages, it becomes clear that the result is in favour of advantages. And I can definitely say that I am by no means sorry that I chose to pursue a career in science.

Women in Science Profiles