International Day of Women and Girls in Science

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On February 11, the International Day of Women and Girls in Science is celebrated. On this occasion, we decided to find out what status women in research have. Facts will be revealed, but in addition to graphs, we also offer interviews with female scientists working at the Institute of Physics. We wanted to find out why they chose physics and whether there are equal opportunities in physics.

Pavla Federičová on her research at the Laboratory for the Testing of Silicon Particle Detectors

Gender equality

What is the situation regarding gender equality like in the Czech Republic? It is revealed in the following Gender Equality Index published by the European Institute for Gender Equality. In 2022, the Czech Republic ranked 23rd compared to the other 27 countries of the European Union. The trend in recent years shows that inequalities are rather widening and that the absence of women in decision-making positions and inequalities in the labour market persist. Positive news is that the income gap is narrowing and while in 2015 women earned 22.5 per cent less than men, by 2021 the gap was only 16.4 per cent.

At high school I wanted to make a good impression and our physics teacher was such a terror, so I thought I'd show him that I really wasn't stupid. Understanding physics well thus became a challenge for me.

RNDr. Alice Valkárová, DrSc., GACR Presidium member

Although there are more women than men studying at universities, there is still a gap in technical fields. Men are predominant in information and communication technologies, where they account for 83% of all university students, and 70% in technology, manufacturing and construction. In 2012, a survey among 15,000 physicists from 130 countries was conducted and the results showed that there is not equal access to career advancement opportunities. More information is available in Physics Today

More than two-thirds of all scientists in the Czech Republic work in the technical and natural sciences, but the proportion of women among researchers in these fields has long been the lowest. A noticeable decline in the representation of women in science occurs after the completion of doctoral studies, as shown by the Ženy ve vědě (Women in Science) survey published by the National Contact Centre - Gender and Science. 

Interviews with female scientists at FZU

Ing. Alice Hospodková, Ph.D.

Ing. Alice Hospodková, Ph.D., head of the Department of Semiconductors and MOVPE Laboratory, is convinced that in physics it is as hard for women as it is for men. The only exception is the time of motherhood.

You are one of the few female heads of departments at FZU. How do you see the issue of equal opportunities in the physics community?

The term "equal opportunity" is a somewhat nebulous term, although it is fashionable to use this phrase. For scientists in the natural sciences used to working with exact quantities, it is probably a difficult concept to grasp. It cannot be easily captured by statistics on the staffing of various jobs. It is certainly not possible in physics, which far fewer women than men are fascinated by.  Read more

RNDr. Mariana Klementová, Ph.D.

RNDr. Mariana Klementová, Ph.D., head of the Electron Microscopy Laboratory, is interested in the characterization of inorganic materials at the micro to nanoscale and in 3D electron diffraction to determine the atomic structure of unknown crystalline substances.

Is physics a gender-neutral challenge for scientists, or is it in science more difficult for women?

It's hard for me to say, I've never been a man. Everyone has their own story. But it's true that caring for children, which is the domain of women at least at a young age, is something of a handicap. But I think that FZU as well as GACR try to accommodate the needs of women mothers. Read more

RNDr. Vladimíra Novotná, CSc.

RNDr. Vladimíra Novotná, CSc., head of the Liquid Crystals group and one of the ten most cited women at FZU

You belong among the ten most cited women at FZU. What advice would you give to younger colleagues so that they succeeded in the scientific competition?

Don't give up. Be persistent and patient. Don't get discouraged. If you feel like your kids are holding you back, they'll grow up fast and won't need you. Be happy that you have a profession that fulfils you and someone at home who loves you. Read more

Mgr. Ivana Víšová, Ph.D.

Mgr. Ivana Víšová, Ph.D., a postdoc at the Joint Laboratory of Optics, her research topics included the study of interactions of functional surfaces with biological systems. A holder or a number of awards, she considers a Ph.D. degree, which opens the door to the world of science, a kind of necessary evil.

What kind of support by FZU do you as a scientist appreciate the most?

There are several things I like about FZU. It's the support of my supervisors and the whole institute in different life situations – despite the size of the institution, you are not just a number. In terms of scientific support – I was able to go out into the world to get experience, there is good collaboration between groups and departments, I have always felt the interest of the management in laboratories expansion, cutting-edge equipment, and at least in the Division of Optics they are not afraid of dynamic development, new topics and experience. Read more


Milena Závětová, the first female scientist at FZU

RNDr. Milena Závětová, CSc., is the first female scientist at FZU. After graduation she started her scientific career in the Laboratory of Optics of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences led by Professor Bedřich Havelka. In 1958, she joined the group of Professor Jan Tauc at the Institute of Technical Physics of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences (which later became the Institute of Solid-State Physics and in 1979 the Institute of Physics of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences).

A member of the Jan Marek Marci Spectroscopic Society and the Union of Czech Mathematicians and Physicists, she focused on the study of amorphous and glassy semiconductors. From the late 1960s she actively participated in the transformation of the Czechoslovak Journal of Physics (Československý časopis pro fyziku) and continued her work for the "yellow" journal until the first years of the third millennium. Throughout her life, she followed Faraday's motto "work – finish – publish", which she also applied to her colleagues. They recall her principle "No more measurements until you complete your article!" At the Spectroscopic Society, she was a member of the Main Committee Board for more than fifteen years and headed the Solid-State Spectroscopy Specialty Group for several years. In 1991, she was awarded the Jan Marci of Kronland Medal.

The ten most cited female scientists at FZU according to the Scopus database

What do surveys say? Studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics have shown that women are authors of fewer papers than expected. More information is available in the Science journal.


Number of publications


Ing. Marcela Mikeštíková, Ph.D.



RNDr. Martina Boháčová, Ph.D.



doc. RNDr. Eva Mihóková, CSc.



Ing. Věra Hamplová, CSc.



prom. fyz. Milada Glogarová, CSc.



Prof. Dr. Sci. Nadezhda M. Bulgakova, Ph.D.



M. Panušková



RNDr. Vladimíra Novotná, CSc.



Ing. Alena Beitlerová



RNDr. Mariana Klementová, Ph.D.



Nobel Prizes and women

Since 1901, when the Nobel Prizes started to be awarded, a total of 60 women have won the award, approximately 3% of all the prizes awarded. However, the good news is that since 2000, the highest prize in science was awarded to 11 women. The first woman to win the Nobel Prize was Marie Curie in 1903. Would you like to know why this is so? More information is available in the Science journal.

Nobel Prizes in Physics awarded to women

  • 1963 Maria Goeppert Mayer

  • 2018 Donna Strickland

  • 2020 Andrea Ghez