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Women in Science

Judith is a Professor of Statistics and came to the University from France in 2017.

Judith Rousseau

BACKGROUND

at the time of the interview - 2018

No details given.

EXTENDED BIOGRAPHY

at the time of the interview -  2018

Before joining Oxford in 2017 Judith was a Professor at University Paris Dauphine, France. She had not worked outside of France before and saw the opportunity to move abroad as an opportunity to advance her work and career.

The move to England was not an easy decision, as Judith has a son at high school and did not want to disturb his studies. To reduce the disruption for him she splits her time between her work at Oxford and family life in France. In term time this means at least four days in Oxford, although outside of term she can be more flexible.

Judith does not mind the commute as it is a good time to work. The commute is also not too different to a long commute she had in her previous post, which meant her family had to make small changes to the already established good routines for when she was away. Judith said that her mother was able to assist with the child caring duties and her partner was supportive of her taking the opportunity. If all goes well, she hopes her family will join her in England in a few years time.

I think there is still a strong sense in the subconscious of the society that hard science if it’s difficult it’s, it means that it needs to be handled by someone strong and that needs to be handled by a man.

From an early age Judith knew that she wanted to do research. During her undergraduate years she found an interest in statistics. Growing up becoming a scientist was always a possible career as her mother was an academic scientist. Judith reflected that she had always enjoyed mathematics and statistics and never felt that it was not natural for her to pursue a career in these fields.

Judith recalled that there was a gender imbalance when studying mathematics and statistics, although she never experienced any gender related difficulties in the classroom. This imbalance is still noticeable in her current role, especially when she is at conferences. Again, she has not found that this translated into her work being taken less seriously. Being a woman in a male dominated field did mean that she sometimes stood out from the crowd and this occasionally helped to draw attention to her work. But Judith always knew that her work needed to be interesting and distinctive in itself for her to succeed.

In the future Judith would like more women to become mathematicians and statisticians. It was her experience that she might not have pursued some funding or promotions, as she did not always feel confident enough to push herself forward. She hopes young women will get the support and encouragement that she got at key moments in her career. Judith said she wants to encourage people in her field to openly discuss career options with women to ensure they do not miss opportunities due to a lack of confidence that they otherwise would be able to pursue.