Women in research: Charlotte Skau Pawlowski
On the occasion of the International Women’s Day on 8 March, please meet some of our women researchers from SDU and learn their perspectives on being a woman in research.
Charlotte Skau Pawlowski
Charlotte is an Associate Professor at the Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics. She conducts research in physical activity (PA) behaviour and the significance of one’s environment for engaging in PA. Most recently, she has helmed a major study of the Danes’ PA behaviour during the corona shutdown.
There is a general notion that the research world is dominated by men. Do you accept this notion? And how have you yourself managed to build a career in a ‘man’s world’?
I’ve never really given it much thought as to whether I’m working in a male-dominated world or not, but the fact is that I’m the only woman associate professor in our research team, and there are no women professors. The research world is highly competitive and demands that you step up your game continuously – maybe that’s the answer?
If you want to build a career in the research world, it can also be difficult to bank on a long maternity leave and being able to check out at 4 PM, because then the ship has sailed.
If you want to build a career in the research world, it can also be difficult to bank on a long maternity leave and being able to check out at 4 PM, because then the ship has sailed. I have prioritised short maternity leaves and also work after 4 PM. I sometimes find that women in particular frown on my priorities somewhat, because ‘what about your kids?’ And my husband often says, ‘Don’t you ever get fed up with sitting in front of that screen?’ I'm pretty sure far fewer men get those remarks, but I'm happy with my work and give it a high priority. I can’t help myself. I get a kick out of making a difference in people’s health.
Who are your biggest role models? Do you have someone you take example from?
Nicola Ridgers from Deakin University in Melbourne is a great role model for me. When I got started on my PhD and was searching for literature in that field of research, I came across her name on a host of publications. I imagined she must be one of the old, seasoned women in the field of research.
A few months later, I went to Sydney for my first international conference. Nicola was a keynote speaker, and I was completely stunned when she stepped up onto the podium – she was younger than me, but still seasoned. I’ve been in contact with her ever since and visited her in Melbourne a few years back. She’s a great source of inspiration to me and she’s shown that it pays to work hard.
What do you dream of achieving with your research?
To me, providing knowledge is a very important task, and I aim to create application-oriented knowledge that can be translated into better design and organisation of the settings that influence our PA behaviour. It's a huge driving force for me. And then I dream of soon being able to meet and discuss research with my international colleagues again.