Adelina Andrei an avid participant in numerous national and international maths competitions has stated that it is very important to contribute to the empowerment of women and girls by example.
Among the important prizes she has won are a gold medal at the European Girls’ Mathematical Olympiad.
The 18-year-old student from Chișinău is also the only girl in a group consisting of eight boys studying at different institutions who recently won the bronze medal at the International Mathematical Olympiad organized by the Russian Federation.
Andrei says the most important thing is that she does what she likes, without paying attention to stereotypes.
She said, “I’ve had a passion for mathematics since primary school. I realized that mathematics were very important for me when I noticed that I was ready to stay for hours thinking about a difficult problem, just because it seemed interesting to me, and when I realized that I would not give up when so many people in so many situations used to tell me ‘girls cannot be as good as boys at mathematics’.”
Adelina Andrei says her parents and school play an important role in developing her abilities.
“My parents and my teachers are those who motivated me to study mathematics. When you are a child, it is very important to have examples that would inspire you, making you believe that you would succeed. It is even more important for girls, as we see a lack of women examples in STEM. So it is very important, at least for me, to contribute to the empowerment of girls, who are at the beginning of their journey, by being an example, by giving them advice and help.”
Since the number of girls participating in STEM competitions is extremely low compared to boys, it is important to encourage girls to actively participate, without facing gender-based discrimination. According to Adelina Andrei, a good method of increasing interest is organizing girls’ olympiads.
“When analysing the profiles of the participants in the International Mathematical Olympiad, we noticed a low number of girls. This can be explained by gender stereotypes according to which mathematics and other hard sciences are designed for boys.
"Obviously, there are more men in the STEM field because they are systemically more encouraged to learn hard sciences. The problem, if I can call it that, is in our preconceptions and maybe in the lack of information about some successful women who succeeded in STEM, such examples motivating girls, indirectly stating: ‘You will succeed as well!’.
"Thus, the European Girls’ Mathematical Olympiad is a method to encourage girls to participate in mathematical competitions, to overcome existing clichés according to which girls have to be good at literature and history only, to gain experience and self-confidence.”