First woman appointed to head Czech Academy of Sciences

Helena Illnerova

Helena Illnerova, a 63-year-old biologist and academic, has just become the first woman ever to be elected as the Chairwoman of the Czech Academy of Sciences, the Czech Republic's most senior scientific research institute. Mrs Illnerova says her priority is to strengthen ties with the country's universities, and make science more popular. A daunting task, and a breakthrough appointment. Earlier Radio Prague's Nicole Negowetti asked Mrs Illnerova for her feelings at becoming the first woman to head the institute.

Helena Illnerova
"I am the first woman who is in charge of the Academy of Sciences but in fact we have here two women rectors, one in the city of Olomouc and the other one who is in charge of the University of Economics. I'm not the first woman but the Academy is the largest institute. Our women can see that it is possible to get such a position even if you are a woman."

What are some of the problems that the Academy is facing?

"I think that anyone who is in charge of such an institution has to think about the budget. But of course I think we have to collaborate more with our universities to combine our forces and just to work on the same international projects, European projects and so on. I think it's important to unite all our skills and work together. When I talk with my colleagues around the world I feel there are the same problems everywhere."

Could you briefly describe your campaign to make scientific knowledge and information more available to the common person?

"I think we have to talk more about science, even our journalists should do this, but of course we have to show them the importance of science what science can bring to the society and how science is interesting. Doing science is a detective story so I think we should find a way to tell people about our enthusiasm for this detective story and how the whole universe is arranged."

Author: Nicole Negowetti
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