Z politiky na vysokoškolskou půdu. Doktorka Smaranda Pantea o ženách nejen ve vědě, ale i v politice.

Začátky v oblasti politiky, nejprve v Evropské komisi, poté na rumunském Ministerstvu financí. Nyní jako akademická a výzkumná pracovnice na Vysoké škole ekonomické v Praze. Nejen o tom se rozpovídala doktorka Smaranda Pantea v dalším z rozhovorů minisérie Ženy ve vědě.  

What is your up-to-date academic career?  

Since 2019, I have worked as an Assistant Professor and Research Fellow at the Faculty of International Relations at the Prague University of Economics and Business. Previously, I worked at the Faculty of Business Administration. Before joining the academia, I worked in policy: first at the European Commission (at the Joint Research Centre and at DG GROW) and then at the Ministry of Finance of Romania.  

I have obtained my Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Nottingham, my master’s degree from the University of Porto and my bachelor’s degree from the Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest.  

I have published in European Economic Review, Small Business Economics, Economic Systems and Information Economics and Policy. In addition, I have contributed to policy reports of the Joint Research Centre, the European Commission and the Ministry of Finance of Romania.  

Do you recall a breaking point in your career? What is and how it did change your career? If you don’t recall any, can you imagine one in the future? 

I cannot recall a breaking point, rather I would say that each stage of my career brought new opportunities and I took these opportunities.  

What is your current research and plans for future?  

I currently focus on two lines of research. Both have their roots in my previous work in policy. The first line focuses on the digital economy and the ICT sector. I started working on these topics when I was at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission. There, I studied the effects of ICT on employment and consumers in the EU. When I worked at the Ministry of Finance, I studied the effects of a tax exemption for programmers on the ICT sector in Romania. Later, I studied how self-employment, which becomes increasingly widespread due to advances in digital economy, affects earnings. Currently, within my recent GACR project, I study the effects of digitalization of public administration on development of the ICT sector in the CEE.  

My second line of research focuses on counterfactual evaluations of public policies. When I joined the Ministry of Finance of Romania, there was an initiative to evaluate flagship economic policies. As part of it, I studied the effects of minimum wage changes and of the tax exemption for programmers. Later, I studied the effects of grants for SMEs. Currently, together with former colleagues, I am evaluating a program that granted holiday vouchers to public sector employees on the development of tourism sector. The GACR project also relates to this line of research as it evaluates the effects of policies that aim to support the digital transformation of the public sector.  

What obstacles did you have to overcome in your career if any?  

As a woman and as a someone who had a different career path than most academics (I started my career in policy), I faced difficulties at the beginning of my academic career. This background gave me a different perspective and a different way of doing things, which helped me in my research, but sometimes my profile was criticized for not conforming to some standard “researcher” profile. Moreover, sometimes I felt that some people doubted my achievements or my contributions to these achievements and my abilities to work as an independent researcher. This motivated me to write also single-authored articles, as a way to prove my abilities. Another problem I faced was that sometimes it was also difficult to set and maintain a sustainable work-life-balance.   

Overtime, publications, scientific awards, including the recent Rector’s award, and winning a GACR helped improve this situation. Currently, the situation is much better and our Head of Department, Martina Jiránková, is very supportive.  

How do you see the position of women in academic field?  

Women are underrepresented in academia and especially in economics. This is an important problem. Women have different experiences, which shape their perspectives and research interests. The current economic problems are complex and to design successful public policies it is important to consider different perspectives. So, having few women in the academia, means that economics misses their perspectives. This limits the diversity of answers provided to current questions and also the kind of questions that are asked and discussed in the literature. In addition, I believe there is still a bias against women, although it is not expressed directly.   

Now, there is awareness about these problems and there are efforts to increase the share of women in academia and to ensure equal opportunities for them, which should improve the situation for future researchers.  

Any recommendation of what should our university change or pursue to help change the condition for women?  

It would be useful to increase dialogue on these issues within the university. At the beginning of this year, I participated in a very interesting group discussion related to the Equal Opportunities Audit. I found it very useful to discuss my own experience and to hear about the experience of others. It would be useful to have more such dialogs.  

More could be done to highlight the research related achievements of women (publications, grants) in our university. This could also encourage more young girls to pursue a career in academia.   

Finally, I believe it is very important to ensure a healthy work life balance. While this is especially important for women, it would be useful for everyone.  

What are your tips and ideas for future aspiring scientists? 

Based on my own experience, I would advise them to work also outside academia, with public institutions or international organizations, to gain a better understanding of the real-world problems and how economics can help solve them.   

I would also advise them, especially at the beginning of the career, to not let themselves be intimidated or pressured by other people’s expectations and to follow their own path and to maintain a good work-life balance.