Girls in Science? – Go for it!
Andrea Gorsche (VIRTUAL VEHICLE) & Elena Blazhevska (VIRTUAL VEHICLE)
Born and raised in Skopje, North Macedonia, Elena Blazhevska discovered her interest in natural sciences while still in school. Inspired by her parents who both work in fields related to Math, Elena felt especially drawn to Math and Physics. – A specialization she chose in her 3rd year of gymnasium. Now, working as an electrical engineer for the VIRTUAL VEHICLE, Elena was happy to share her journey as a ‘Girl in Tech’. She sat down with us for the ‘International Day of Women and Girls in Science’ hoping to inspire girls and women around the globe to follow her example.
Today is the ‘International Day of Women and Girls in Science’, a good day to remember that a lot of young girls out there are currently trying to figure out their career. They may soon have to choose a specialization in school, apply for a college program or decide on their first job.
Elena, if a girl or woman wants to take on a career in tech, what would you advice them to do?
“ Go for it! (laughs.) If someone is determined to do something I don’t think that they should be stopped. At the end of the day, it is not about the gender but doing what you are passionate about. The gender bias issues should not stop you from pursuing what you really want to pursue. Don’t be a scientist for the sake of it but … if you are really passionate about something then you shouldn’t be afraid to just go for it.”
What was your dream job as a kid? Did you always want to be a scientist?
“I was always interested in natural sciences, especially Biology and Math. So for a while I considered becoming a doctor but eventually my interest in Math and Physics lead to electrical engineering. My father is a mechanical engineer and we used to study Math together. My mother is also into numbers, working in the field of economy. So, Math has always been a binding thing in our family. Later my father started working as an informatic engineer and I could work with him on algorithms and help with programming. We would sit together and create and manage a database for example. My parents always motivated me and inspired me.”
What exactly do you do at the Virtual Vehicle?
“I am a researcher in the power and components team of the battery group. Basically, I work with power modules, using data science, programming and machine learning to monitor the reliability of power electronics. An important part is condition monitoring – to see where a device is at and to estimate how much of a remaining useful life it may have. This knowledge is, for example, important in e-mobility, a topic that grew close to my heart.”
What do you enjoy most about your work as a scientist?
“The freedom that you can have all those crazy ideas. Trying out if something works is really fun for me. Also being part of something beneficial. Doing something that hasn’t been done before, make a change. Do inspirational work.”
In technical professions and science, many colleagues are still men. And boys are also pre-dominate in technical schools. How did you feel as a “girl in science”?
“I went to school in Skopje and there are a lot of girls that pursue science and technology. Also, at university. So, I never felt this way. In my current team I am the only woman but that doesn’t really matter, we get along very well. It is a different experience for everybody, though. It is important for me to raise awareness. Afterall, it is not only men that are going to do this profession.”
With everything you now know about your career, what advice would you give yourself? What advice would you give your teenage-self if you could go back in time?
“I would probably not say too much because the path was a good one and I wouldn’t want to change anything about that. But for sure I would say to believe in myself. That hard work always pays off. To pursue what you want to pursue. To not be too hard on yourself. To not give up on your dream because it can happen.”