Our campaign leading up to “Woman in Science Day” on February 11, 2024, persists with an interview featuring Vasiliki Kostoula, a PhD student affiliated with the Institute of Communication and Computer Systems (ICCS), a key partner in the HiDALGO2 project. We delved into her engagement in the project, the varied roles she has undertaken, her contributions, and the importance she places on gender diversity in her field. Let’s delve into her narrative!
How did you initially become involved with HiDALGO2, and what motivated you to contribute your expertise to this project?
I joined HiDALGO2 at a time when I was looking for new directions and growth in my career. The project’s commitment to leveraging cutting-edge computational techniques to address environmental challenges was particularly compelling. My role within the team allows me to delve into extensive datasets, drawing out meaningful patterns and insights that contribute to our research.
In your role within HiDALGO2, how do you contribute to the project’s mission?
In HiDALGO2, my primary contribution lies in the preprocessing and postprocessing of data. This involves tasks like preparing the simulation inputs and ensuring the data we feed into our models are clean, accurate, and structured. After the simulations run, we continue with post processing, which means analysing the outputs and looking for statistical properties and patterns that can tell us more about the use cases we’re studying.
The project’s commitment to leveraging cutting-edge computational techniques to address environmental challenges was particularly compelling
As a woman working on a STEM-related project like HiDALGO2, what are your thoughts on the importance of gender diversity in the field?
In the STEM fields, where I find myself often among more men than women, I am reminded of the value and importance of gender diversity. Diversity brings a wealth of perspectives, and in complex projects, these varied viewpoints can lead to more innovative solutions and a more dynamic approach to problem-solving. While it’s true that currently there’s a gender gap in many STEM areas, I’m hopeful for a future where gender parity is the norm and discussions about gender inequality become a thing of the past. It’s not just about equal numbers; it’s about equal contribution and recognition. Every person, regardless of gender, should have the opportunity to contribute. So, while we work towards more balance, we must continue to encourage and support women to enter and thrive in STEM, and in general in every field, ensuring their perspectives and talents help shape the future of society.
While it’s true that currently there’s a gender gap in many STEM areas, I’m hopeful for a future where gender parity is the norm and discussions about gender inequality become a thing of the past.
Are there any women in the STEM or sustainability sectors who have inspired you in your career? How have they influenced your path?
In my career, Ada Lovelace has been a big inspiration to me. She’s known as the first computer programmer, and her work has always caught my attention. What’s really impressive about her is how she could see the future of computers way before everyone else. She had big ideas at a time when most people didn’t notice the work women did in science. Her determination and big thinking have always encouraged me.
HiDALGO2 may have women in leadership positions. Can you share your perspective on the importance of women holding leadership roles in projects like this?
In an ideal world, the presence of women in leadership roles in projects like HiDALGO2 wouldn’t be a topic of special interest, but rather a commonplace reality. It’s a bit disheartening that we’re still addressing gender inequality in 2023. The core issue is about ensuring equal opportunities for everyone, irrespective of gender. Leadership, in essence, should be about capability and suitability for the role, not dictated by gender. Everyone, regardless of their gender can bring valuable perspectives and skills to the table and women in leadership roles are especially important. Women leaders bring unique perspectives and experiences that are important for the success of projects. Their involvement at the top levels ensures a more balanced approach to decision-making and problem-solving. We should strive to create environments where leadership positions are open to all based on their skills and potential, emphasizing the need to actively support and boost women into these roles. This approach is not just about fairness but also about leveraging the full range of human talent and perspective. This shift is essential to dismantle outdated and harmful ideas about gender roles in leadership. By focusing on the abilities, thoughts, and contributions of each individual, free from the constraints of gender expectations, we can fully appreciate the critical role women play in leadership and in general in our society. Their representation is vital, not just for equality, but for the enriched insights and outcomes they bring to the table.
Women leaders bring unique perspectives and experiences that are important for the success of projects
As a woman in science, how do you hope to inspire other women and girls to pursue careers in similar fields?
As a woman in science, I hope to inspire other women and girls by demonstrating that they should never let anyone dictate what they can or cannot achieve. It’s vital to believe in yourself and your abilities, even if it means standing apart from the crowd. Being different should be seen as a strength, not a barrier. Diversity brings new ideas, perspectives, and approaches to science, which is crucial for innovation and progress. I want to convey that every woman and girl has the potential to excel in fields like ours, regardless of the stereotypes or obstacles they might face. It’s about embracing your uniqueness and using it to drive your passion and goals. By doing so, we not only enrich our own lives but also contribute positively to the field of science. So, my advice is to trust in your abilities, follow your curiosity, and don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo. Your perspective is valuable and necessary in the world of science, and it’s important to remember that diversity, in all its forms, is a powerful force for change and progress.
Write a quote that summarises your opinion about “Women in science”
“In science, diversity is not just welcome, it’s essential”