University College London
|Job Title:Royal Society University Research Fellow and Reader
She is an Astronomer: How long is it since you got your maximum academic degree?
Sarah Bridle: 8 years
SIAA: Do you feel it was more difficult for you to get a job or a promotion in comparison with male astronomers?
SB: No. I was very lucky to have superb mentors. Without advice from them at crucial moments I would have assumed I couldn't do it and would have quit academia.
SIAA: Are women under-represented in your institution?
SB: A good fraction of students, postdocs and early faculty are women, in the astronomy group of the Physics and Astronomy Department at UCL.
SIAA: What is your family status?
SB: Married. No children. Age 33.
SIAA: Have you had career breaks?
SB: I have not had any career breaks.
After my PhD I spent one year doing a postdoc in Toulouse, France while my partner stayed in the UK. Over the past year I spent 6 months on sabbatical in Paris while my partner was in the UK and on sabbatical himself for several months.
SIAA: How many hours per day do you normally dedicate to work?
SB: On weekdays I work an average of 12 hours a day. I have never worked weekends and I decided that if my job required me to work weekends then I didn't want it! At weekends I enjoy gardening and playing the cello and singing.
SIAA: What would most help you advance your career?
SB: For the future I would like advice on how to manage potential career breaks and flexible working within an academic position, and help on how to mentor others without academic positions on career breaks and flexible working.
SIAA: What recommendation would you make to young women starting their career in astronomy?
SB: The best advice I ever had was "If you don't ask, you don't get"!
I would also advise women to look realistically at how they compare to their peers and not to automatically assume they are worse.
At the moment I don't know many examples of women who have sucessfully managed to have a family at an early career stage. I certainly assumed that it would be impossible and would have left academia had I not got a permanent position early. I suspect that many women just leave before even trying to combine a family with an academic career. However I very much hope it is possible and I look forward to seeing many positive examples on this website!