14 Aug 2020

EWM in Ukraine, 2018-2020

General comments on situation concerning female mathematicians in Ukraine

The structure of the scientific sphere in Ukraine is inherited from the USSR. The main scientific forces of the country are concentrated in the National Academy of Sciences, in which scientists are engaged only in science and are not required to teach. In contrast, professors at Ukrainian universities are so overloaded with teaching that the majority of them simply do not have time to be seriously engaged in science. Of course, there are exclusions (some strong scientists at TOP-Universities exist).

In Ukraine, there are 2 scientific degrees – PhD, and Doctor of Sciences (which is equivalent to Habilitation in some European countries, such as Germany or Czechia).  If a scientist has achieved some outstanding merit, he or she is elected a Corresponding Member of the Academy of Sciences. The highest recognition of the merits of a scientist is his/her election as an Academician. The election takes place by a vote of other Academicians and Corresponding Members for the nominations.

At the Institute of Mathematics of NAS of Ukraine, there are 32% of female mathematicians at the moment, at Universities this percentage ranges from 15% (Kyiv National University) up to 40-50% (e.g. Kyiv Mohyla Academy, Cernivtsy University) and varies somewhere between at the others. At the same time, there are only 6% of women having Dr. of Sciences Degree (Dr. Habilitat) among all researchers having such a degree at the Institute of Mathematics of NASU and there is no female Chief of Department. There is only one female Corresponding member and there is no female Academician in the Academy in the specialty mathematics. 

The lack of funding of science in Ukraine leads to a rather bad situation of researchers in general. The salary of Junior Researcher in the Academy is about 250 Eur and of Senior Researcher is about 320 Eur, though prices for basic goods and housing rent are close to the average South and Eastern-European (e.g. Poland, Czechia). There are a bit higher (up to 500 Eur) salaries at TOP Universities. There are no modern computers at the institute and researchers should work from their own laptops. There is also no funding for participation at international conferences so researchers usually rely on grants from organizers. Taking into account that in private companies (especially concerned with IT) there are almost European salaries (around 1500 Eur and higher for top-management) many PhD students do not finish their courses with Thesis defense because they move to IT. Primarily, only big enthusiasts remain in science in Ukraine.

Some events organized in Ukraine for female mathematicians since 2018

This was a one-day event for historical and modern perspectives on the role and impact of women in mathematics. The key speakers were female researchers who are at the higher level of their research careers. By their personal stories, these women encourage high school girls and students to become professional mathematicians. The main objectives of the event were reducing the gender gap in mathematics, popularization of mathematics, and giving an opportunity for high school girls and students to establish contacts with successful female mathematicians.

There were three parts of the event, which symbolized past, present and future of women in mathematics. In the first part talks on the history of women in mathematics were given, enlightening biographies of such prominent female mathematicians as Maria Gaetana Agnesi, Sophie Germain, Sofia Kovalevskaya, Emmy Noether and others. In the second part, Ukrainian female mathematicians who are at higher levels of academic career gave inspirational talks that are based on their personal stories. In the third part we discussed how mathematics forms a basis for STEM, and then some talks were given by schoolgirls and students who presented their projects for the popularization of mathematics.

More than 100 participants took part in the event. The event joined the May 12 initiative.
Photos are available here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/Z9UMNmkK2YUnySzJ7

  • Since 2016 there exists a STEM Girls program of mentoring schoolgirls and students
    by the women with successful carriers in STEM professions. In 2018-2019 Dr. Olena Vaneeva supervised two girls who created projects for the popularization of mathematics. One of the girls also took interviews of 16 female mathematicians to ask about their experience. The majority of women reported that they encountered some obstacles because of their gender. In 2019-2020 two projects were also supervised by Dr. Kateryna Terletska. Within this program in 2018—2020 Olena Vaneeva and Kateryna Terletska gave several talks for the female audiences about the beauty of mathematics and their personal experiences.
  • On February 11, 2020, there was a special event for the celebration of Women in Science Day     https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=497847197557494
  • Because of the lockdown the celebration of May 12, 2020, was done in Zoom meeting format
    The latter two events were organized by “STEM Girls” with the participation of mathematicians from the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (Vaneeva, Nesterenko, Terletska).