(Video) Svetlana Cojocaru: “I am the first woman director of the Institute of Mathematics and Computer Science”


Svetlana Cojocaru became the first woman director of the Institute of Mathematics and Computer Science of the Academy of Sciences of Moldova. She became passionate about mathematics in her school years. Find out bellow the story of our sixth heroine of the “You know you can” campaign.

Svetlana Cojocaru

Svetlana Cojocaru, first woman director of the Institute of Mathematics and Computer Science. Photo: UN Women Moldova/ Eduard Bîzgu

“I am the director of the Institute of Mathematics and Computer Science. I am the first woman to lead this institute and I am on my second term. I am a member of the Academy of Sciences.

I defended my doctoral dissertation in Computer Science here, in Chișinău, and I was the first woman in our country to defend a doctoral dissertation in the field of Computer Science. I achieved being the first in something during various stages of my life.

It is true that Mathematics, in particular, is a field mostly practiced by men, even if there are many famous female mathematicians as well.

It is a problem at the global level and it is being meticulously analyzed to understand why there are so few women in the field of Mathematics. I chose to study Mathematics thanks to my school teacher.

During a geometry lesson, he demonstrated a theorem in such a beautiful manner, so artistically. It was then when I felt the beauty of mathematics. Therefore, when I graduated from school, I didn’t have any doubts regarding the field that I wanted to study.

I studied Mathematics and I specialized in applied mathematics and the researches that I conducted were of a broader spectrum, specifically related to computer science and its different fields, which, at that moment, seemed very interesting to me, such as computerized algebra, formal grammars and intelligent interferences.

The subject that I enjoy very much is the processing of the natural language, a field which facilitates the understanding between a human and a computer.

When the Institute of Mathematics and Computer Science first offered me the job of science secretary, I refused, and also, the second time. But then I asked myself: can I do this job or not? I understood that I could do it and I accepted the challenge. From the beginning it was clear that it would keep me very busy, that it would take me away from my research activity, but I understood that I could do this job and that I should do it.

Of course, there is a lot of routine work in the research activity, but doing it brings me a lot of new knowledge and this is what I am truly passionate about – proving something new, something that has never been proved before, and add new information to the humanity’s collective knowledge.

When I was first elected as director in 2010, one of the issues in my mandate was to attract young people in the field of research.

We collaborate with different businesses in the country. They help us and they try to bring their contribution within some joint projects. We try to implement international projects to offer young people a larger view of the world.

There are other female directors of institutes within the Academy of Sciences, but a lot fewer than men. We also have women who are members of the Academy, but still, they are a lot fewer than men. And this is something that we are responsible for as well.

I try to make time for another passion of mine – literature. My grandfather taught me how to read when I was 2 or 3 years old, and since then I am always reading something in different fields, not only specialty literature. If I hadn’t chosen the field of mathematics, I guess I would have studied literature or something related to this field. 

In the future, I wish to travel more, because it is a big and beautiful world we live in. I want to reach places I have never been to before, and last, but not least, I want to have the possibility to spend as much time with my granddaughter as possible.”