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“I have learned so much from her, especially how to develop an outlook on life”

“I have learned so much from her, especially how to develop an outlook on life” “I have learned so much from her, especially how to develop an outlook on life”

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Illustration Simone Golob/ photo archive AG

International Women’s Day 2021: Andreea Grigoriu

Four women from various faculties. What do they think about International Women’s Day? Is it still necessary to take time out on 8 March to think about the (unequal) opportunities for women? Who was or is their role model? Are they being treated equally in their field?  This time: Andreea Grigoriu (25), PhD candidate at the Faculty of Law (Law & Tech). She is doing research into online intimidation, with the emphasis on insulting language on social media.

Who was your role model when you were growing up?

“I actually didn’t have anyone as an example. I did what I enjoyed doing. Also, I honestly chose a study programme that would get me a good job.” Grigoriu did a bachelor’s in Business Information Systems at a university in her home country Romania. For her master’s, she came to Maastricht University (Data Science and Knowledge Engineering). “While I was here, I got to know Amrapali Zaveri. She was my supervisor for my internship project.” Zaveri was a postdoc from India at the Institute of Data Science. She died last year. Suddenly. “I learned so much from her. Not just about doing research, but mostly how to develop an outlook on life. That you should always celebrate victories and achievements, no matter how small they are. For instance, when a presentation goes well. ‘Stop and recognise that fact’, she would then say. A good lesson for many researchers who are often already dealing with the next chapter and not enjoying things enough. Amrapali was always open and optimistic. My latest victory that I celebrated? An article that – having been with the editors for a year – was finally published in a scientific journal.” 

The best or worst unsolicited advice from a man or woman:

“I mainly receive advice about my work from my supervisors, four men. But I do feel that those tips are always constructive, well intentioned, never condescending. In the beginning, when I first arrived in Maastricht and had just started the master’s, I sometimes got the feeling that I had to do better, that I didn’t matter. Female students are a small minority at Data Science. Remarkably, in Romania more women do studies in computer and data science. I never felt excluded there. Here in Maastricht, it seemed like I had to cultivate trust with my male fellow students. It was never explicitly expressed, so I can’t give an example, but it felt like I was being 'interrogated' by them about what I knew; just to check that I knew all the details from a to z. When I did my internship at the Institute of Data Science, I no longer had that feeling. Just like now at the Faculty of Law; maybe that is because there is more of a balance between males and females at this faculty.”

In how many years’ time will we no longer need an International Women’s Day?

“I think it is always important to have a day of recognition. Look at the health care sector. There is still, all over the world, women who become pregnant unintentionally or without wanting to because there is no information, no contraception, no abortion facilities. Romania for example, has many pregnancies; contraceptives are too expensive. Abortion is allowed, but by no means as accepted – both by society as well as doctors – as it is in the Netherlands. It carries a great stigma. I remember my visit of University College Maastricht: there were free tampons and sanitary towels in the toilets. I was flabbergasted. That is progress. Unbelievably good.”

International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is celebrated every year on 8 March. It stands for women’s solidarity and empowerment. The very first celebration of Women’s Day, internationally, was in 1911. More and more women were standing up for their rights, among others in the fields of employment and voting rights. The Netherlands has celebrated the day since 1912. A different theme is chosen each year. This year it is Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world. At Maastricht University, FEM, Pint of Science, and Anna Schueth (a postdoc at the Faculty of Psychology and Neurosciences) organised the Women Researchers’ Festival last Monday. Sixteen female researchers presented their research.

 

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