INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2020
To celebrate International Women’s Day 2020 with the theme #EachforEqual, RISE caught up with Dr Despina Michael-Grigoriou, RISE Visual Science Research Pillar Leader and Virtual Reality for Well-being multidisciplinary research group leader, and here is what we have for you.
1. This day celebrates the scientific, political, social and economic achievements of women. As a successful woman, why is this day important to you?
The international women’s day, 8th of March, is an important day for everyone, women and men. For women to get honored and for men to give honor as an expression that they are realizing the importance of women. Personally, I see the day as a day for reflections; to reflect on the achievements throughout my career and the balance needed between personal life and work.
2. RISE: What does it mean for you?
RISE means a lot for me! I am with RISE from the very beginning, from the 1st day of its conception. Most people think of RISE as the CoE established in the beginning of 2018. RISE history goes back in the beginning of 2014 when the idea was conceptualized and since then, hard, dedicated and continuous effort was needed, for several years, to make RISE a reality.I see RISE as my baby in the work, and I am really proud to see something that begun from zero to become a successful organization, employ almost about a hundred of people and having this great impact in the society and science.
3. What barriers have you faced, as a woman, in becoming successful in your field? How did you overcome them?
It is known that the percentage of women in technology is much lower compared to that of men. Specifically, in the field of Computer Science and Information Technology in general, women are less than 20% of the total workforce worldwide and this percentage is even smaller in our country. This creates some stereotypes around the skills of the women on the topic and might create barriers in the career paths of women.
I consider myself to be lucky enough on this topic and be surrounded by open-minded people in my working environment, thus I wouldn’t say that I faced any big obstacles from external parameters on the specific aspect. However, there are some parameters that come from the nature of the woman, as for example career breaks due to maternity leaves. As a mother of two adorable children, it’s very hard to keep the balances between a demanding work and family. I am trying to do my best, with working many extra hours, although this means almost zero time for my own self and sometimes this is very exhausting. I get strength from my family; I am pleased for being surrounded by understanding and supportive people.
4. On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?
“Do what you love! Do not think of the barriers! If you really believe in something, you will make it!”