"Never limit yourself because of others’ limited imagination; never limit others because of your own limited imagination." , Mae Jemison, the first African American woman to travel in space
Can you share a bit about your background and journey in the field of social sciences?
My name is Renáta Radócz and I’m a project manager and researcher at Mandat International (MI), a Swiss-based NGO focusing on international cooperation and research. In the past 4 years, I have been focusing on Horizon research projects first supporting, and now actively leading work packages and tasks related to dissemination and compliance, including standardisation, capacity building and security. I’m also a Member of the Europrivacy International Board of Experts supporting the work on the Europrivacy Certification Scheme, the first European Data Seal for certifying the compliance of data processing activities. In particular, I have been responsible for the development of training activities and the Europrivacy Academy.
I obtained my degrees in International Relations (University of Szeged) and Crisis & Security Management (Leiden University). While I’ve always enjoyed research and the focus on international cooperation, my interests have gradually shifted and grown towards international security and issues such as privacy, sustainability, and environmental protection. After years of working in the international field in the city of Peace and Justice (The Hague), I moved to Switzerland to be part of an interdisciplinary team where I was exposed to more hands-on research in emerging technologies and was introduced to standardisation through the Rapporteur status of MI at the International Telecommunications Union. Through the research projects focusing on emerging technologies, I’ve always had the opportunity to expand my horizons and stay updated on latest developments in domains such as cybersecurity, healthcare, Earth observation, and more.
More recently, we are preparing for the publication of the first Springer Handbook of Internet of Things to which I’m a co-editor. This book is a comprehensive reference guide to the Internet of Things aimed towards practitioners, researchers, and students, featuring many of the research endeavours we have undertaken in recent years.
In your opinion, what unique perspectives do women bring to the field of science?
Women can bring unique perspectives to any scientific fields, driving innovation. This can include gender-specific insights, for example in the healthcare domain highlighting some unique problems that women face, diverse problem-solving approaches, inclusive research through the consideration of a wide range of variables such as gender bias. They can serve as role models for young girls, encouraging them to pursue specific scientific fields, helping to close any gender gaps.
Can you provide some insights into your role within the ENTRUST project?
Although Mandat International has a supportive function in many tasks ranging from communication, dissemination, or regulatory compliance, we are responsible for leading the task on standardisation and regulatory activities.
My role in this task is twofold; first, it is about ensuring that the ENTRUST project is aligned with existing standards and the relevant regulatory landscape (i.e., GDPR, ePrivacy Directive, and many more). Aligning with existing standards guarantees the high quality and reliability of the research we are doing while adhering to the law is not only an indispensable necessity but also ensures smooth collaboration across the different jurisdictions of the project partners as well as the sustainability of our work. Second, I’m also responsible for identifying and managing contributions to Standard Development Organisations (SDOs).
Contributions are research outputs that can take many forms, ranging from informative documents or presentations about the project itself, through the solving of certain gaps in existing standards, to full-fledged recommendations that could become new industry standards in various domains. This is done in close collaboration with the consortium members with close ties to different SDOs through supporting those partners who might not have these readily available to them.
As someone actively involved in the ENTRUST project, what advice would you offer to young women who are aspiring to enter the fields of digital healthcare, cybersecurity, or similar domains?
Entering these fields could be challenging but rewarding at the same time. I would suggest three things for anyone interested in digital healthcare or cybersecurity:
Building a strong foundation and expanding horizons – focusing on a strong foundation and acquiring a solid understanding of the core concepts is key to your success. Combining this with information from fields that might not seem relevant can further boost your position.
Staying curious – these fields are evolving constantly with new technologies and new methodologies; what was relevant 6 months ago might be already outdated today. It is important to stay curious and ensure you are up to date on the latest changes. Reading relevant journals, attending workshops, or even debating with your colleagues can help you tremendously.
Taking care of yourself – in high pressure fields with tight deadlines, where women can sometimes face extra obstacles, it is important to have a good balance. You might be tempted to work or develop yourself through most of your waking hours, but it is important to take some time off, relax and not forget your favourite hobbies. Sounds like a cliché, but self-care will ensure that you are always up to challenges and can perform to your best.
What are some common misconceptions about women's roles in digital healthcare and cybersecurity that you'd like to address based on your involvement in the ENTRUST project?
There are so many! Particularly for someone coming from social sciences or “soft sciences”, and venturing into more technical fields and into “hard science”, one might face stereotypes like women lack technical skills, women are not interested in these fields, women are only suited for support roles, or that women are only in the team to represent diversity.
Luckily, in most of the research projects and especially in ENTRUST, this is not the case at all. Gender bias and gender dimension was considered into the design of the project, and it is consciously implemented during the gap analysis for identifying security, privacy and trust requirements for connected medical devices.