Instituut voor Sterrenkunde, University of Leuven& Radboud University Nijmegen
|Job Title: Professor (Leuven)/
Chair of Asteroseismology (Radboud)
'She is an Astronomer': What stage of your career have you reached?
Conny Aerts: I am Full Professor in Leuven and Chair of Asteroseismology at Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands (20%).
SIAA: How many years ago did you complete your PhD?
CA: 15 years
SIAA: What's the most senior position that you have held?
CA: Full professorship.
SIAA: Do you feel it was more difficult for you to get a job or a promotion in comparison with male astronomers?
CA: There is no difference in difficulty to get a permanent position at my university for male and female scientists. It takes on average 9 years, after PhD defence, to get a permanent position.
SIAA: Are women under-represented in your institution?
CA: Women and men are equally represented at my institute; this is due to an active attention to "diversity" in recruitment while building up my own team (which is half of the entire institute).
SIAA: What is your family status?
CA: My partner, Geert Molenberghs, is full professor in Biostatistics. I have two children, born in 1994 and 1998. My parents, born in 1934, are both still alive andlive at 85 km from my home.
SIAA: Have you had career breaks?
CA: Twice a career break of 5 months maternity and breast feeding leave.
SIAA: How many hours per day do you normally dedicate to work?
CA: During week days, I work on average 14 hours. During weekend days, I work on average 3 hours.
SIAA: What would most help advance your career?
CA: A serious reduction in administrative duties, plus a reduction in teaching duties and reduction in committee work and to have a competent highly-qualified administrative staff member. (I have now hired a competent administrative assistant and it is a really big help.)
SIAA: What recommendations would you make to young women starting their career in astronomy?
CA: Don't think too rapidly that you cannot achieve a scientific career:
- Do it your way, even though this is different from all others.
- Don't let your parents (or parents-in-law) have a bad effect on your career choices.
- Don't adapt to the men's style, let them adapt to your style and needs.
- Make sure you train your partner in doing an equal share of house hold tasks.
- Don't just follow your partner abroad, nor adapt to his/her circumstances; think about your own career.
- Make sure you have a good personal mentor and follow the advise of role models.