I am mother with two small children and two university degrees who is currently finishing her PhD in economics. I have been actively applying for qualified jobs for almost a year now – without any success. I am living in Germany – one of the most economically developed countries in the world. And one which you can hardly accuse of (too high) gender inequality.
Born in the Soviet Union, I have been learning as long as I can remember – first at school and then later at the university. Although there was of course no perfect gender equality, women were regarded as important contributors to creating „a better future“ and attaining the economic goals, and girls were given the same scientific education in public schools as boys. It is true that men pursued more often a career of an engineer, while women would prefer to become teachers, but the whole childcare system was and is still adopted to working women. I remember going to a kindergarten and being picked up at 6 p.m. by my Dad as any other Soviet child. After the fall of the Soviet Union, we in Belarus were lucky to have kept the excellent primary and secondary education, as well as higher education that attracted both girls as boys.
Thanks to my well educated parents (my mother holds a university degree in informatics and worked as a programmer for many years while my father obtained his degree in computer engineering) who always encouraged my education, I continued to study eagerly at one of the best technical universities of the country and of course never could even imagine that I was doing it all for nothing. No, I was sure that I was as good as boys (actually I was one of the best in my class at secondary school and university) and that I would still be able to have a family and children while at the same time pursuing a meaningful career. During my third year at the Belarusian State University of Informatics and Radioelectronics I came to Wuppertal, Germany for an exchange semester and was immediately fascinated by the level of democracy that reigned here (contrary to Belarus, there were no ideological slogans in the streets), by the multicultural society and by unlimited opportunities. After finishing my studies in Minsk and graduating in Economics with honours (with a strong technical background), I was awarded a scholarship to continue my Master studies in Germany. So this is how I came back to Wuppertal in 2006 and graduated in Economics (with a focus on ICT and international economics) two years later. Then I decided to continue with a PhD devoted to the analysis of the international mobile communications market while at the same time working as a research assistant at one of the Fraunhofer Institutes, where we developed internationalisation strategies for SMEs from our region based on detailed market analysis. I was mainly responsible for Russian speaking markets with occasional projects in English and French (yes, I speak Russian, German, English and French fluently).