“It is not efficient to only use half of the available brainpower”

International Women’s Day 2021: Katerina Stanková


Four female academics 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 taken serious in their field?  This time: Katerina Stanková (39), associate professor of Dynamic Game Theory.

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

[Laughs] “The worst advice comes from my mother – I don’t know if I should say it, is this being published in English? She advised me to become a primary school teacher, that was a job that leaves you enough time to look after your husband and children, at least in the Czech Republic, where I come from. Because that is what you should do as a woman! I asked myself: why should I work less? Why should I be the only one to take care of the children?

“The best advice that I was ever given was: surround yourself with people who you like to work with. Otherwise work becomes a place where you don’t like to be. You can have a conflict with a colleague, as long as you can talk about it. You can’t work well with people who only want to do things their own way.”

What can the UM do to improve the position of women?

“Setting a good example. The UM does quite well, it has a pretty high percentage of women, also in more senior positions, including of course the rector. But the numbers are stagnating. So, employ women from other universities, ensure that for every position there is a least one female candidate. I myself have noticed when accepting PhD candidates that men apply more easily ‘just to give it a try’. Women first want to meet all the requirements for 200 per cent. Don’t consider inequality on the shop floor only as a problem of women, you should want a diverse team – in that way, you get people who have different views on a problem.”

How many years will it take before we no longer need an International Women’s Day?

“When the male-female ratio at the university is 50-50. That will eventually happen, it is not efficient to only make use of half the available brainpower. But it is slow going, I think it will take a couple of decades before we get there. Besides, I think we should continue to always celebrate International Women’s Day, even if equality has been reached. In order to create awareness, but also because it is fun to have a celebration.”

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: 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.

“It is not efficient to only use half of the available brainpower”
Katerina Stankova OBS..DSCF6872
Author: Cleo Freriks

Illustration: Simone Golob

Photo: Joey Roberts

Tags: international women's day

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