#WomenInScience: Rosa

“Mathematics for me is a philosophy. A philosophy interconnected with all other sciences”

Knowing Rosa, even a little, we didn’t have to think a lot about how she got her name. Close to the example of Rosa Luxemburg, the brilliant 26-year-old Rosa from Athens is revolutionary and politically motivated; two characteristics that have affected her personal development in a male-dominated sector: Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM). Rosa’s name was chosen by her parents.

In her mathematician father’s library, Rosa saw so many books on mathematics! She singled out the one about women mathematicians who existed, to her surprise, since she believed up to an age that men and mathematicians are synonyms. Rosa has since understood that there are no limitations in science and of course sex could not be such. She didn’t immediately admit that math would be her field of study in the future. Her reaction was mainly caused because she refused to answer the question asked to teenagers – “What are you going to study? What will you be when you grow up?“. Overcoming this “social pressure”, as Rosa names it, and the opposition to follow her father’s model, she finally chose science as her field of studies. She loved her courses on biology, chemistry, physics and, of course, mathematics! However, Rosa never forgot her other love, history, which she found the way to connect it with mathematics. What she liked was the history of mathematics and its cross-disciplinary approach: “Schools are restrictive in the cross-disciplinary approach of the sciences. For example, integrals. I was wondering when reading for my exams how did we get to the integrals socially? What social conditions led there?“.

However, she didn’t get ahead in mathematics schools – instead she got her bachelor by the University of the Aegean, School of the Environment, Oceanography. This school sounds very different than the mathematics Rosa wanted to study. “It is not“, she replies, “it is a school full of science courses, applied mathematics, and so I fulfilled my need for interdisciplinarity through the combined sciences’ approach“. Throughout her studies she reads about oceanography, its establishment as a science, the role of women in it, discovering its importance during the Second World War, when the heroes who helped the “male affair, called war” were in fact heroines – those “invisible” women who had the knowledge and helped submarines and soldiers.

Rosa graduated by submitting her BA thesis on “The establishment of Oceanography as a Science and Sex” and had already decided to continue with postgraduate studies. She chooses an exceptional subject for her research inspired by other schools’ courses, such as sociology and gender anthropology. At the same time, she is experiencing a close encounter with the refugee crisis in Lesvos and is voluntarily participating in the work of organizations helping refugees on the island.

Rosa, a 22-year-old girl, is shocked by the refugees’ situation, “I’m living very close to death, I am shocked by its impersonal character, deceased persons are like anonymous, travel’s discontinuation either by natural causes or by other types of boundaries moves me“. That’s what makes Rosa “mix them all together”, as she says. Sea, mathematics and genders are the three pillars of her postgraduate research entitled “Dying on a foreign land: An ethnographic approach to the death of displaced people in the city of Mytilene”. We ask her about her research theme: “I chose it because even death is a male affair. In my research, I had to interview people so as to investigate the procedure followed for the deceased people and all of whom I had to talk with were men, both institutionally and professionally”.

Today, Rosa lives and works in Athens. She is thinking to continue her studies abroad in order to explore the fields of robotics and artificial intelligence. Until then, she continuously strengthens her skills in the wider field of her interests and so we get to know her. Rosa has attended and graduated from the educational training program implemented by SolidarityNow in co-operation with Cisco, IT Essentials, and she notes that it has helped her a lot to understand how a computer works in its essence, the networks’ function, the capabilities it offers – it opened her mind to a new philosophy.

Rosa, a lover of lifelong learning, states that “I haven’t completed my studies. I will go further, and I will also become a living proof that women can do as well, if not better, in the field of science too”.