Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
Job Title: Postdoc
She is an Astronomer: How many years since you got your maximum degree?
Cécile Faure: 7 years
SIAA: Do you feel it was more difficult for you to get a job or a promotion in comparison with male astronomers?
CF: To get a postdoc position, I do not think the gender matters. To get a permanent position, let say I haven't been lucky so far. I have seen many men with similar curriculum vitae than me reaching a permanent position. They apparently had better connections and support than me.
SIAA: Are women under-represented in your institution?
CF: No, that is one of the rare places where I have work where 50% of the students, postdocs and senior researchers are female.
SIAA: What is your family status?
CF: I am 32. I am married and have two kids.
SIAA: Have you had any career breaks? Did you find the return to work difficult?
CF: I have had two maternity leaves: one of 6 month, and one of 4 month. It was difficult to come back after the first break. Science goes fast: 6 months is a lot, a lot of work had been done and many papers published. But I did not feel any pressure whatsoever from my hierarchy. I am just back from my second break, and I try to organize myself not to find it too difficult. In particular, I read a lot of papers, rather than trying to do my own science.
SIAA: How many hours per day do you normally dedicate to work?
CF: 8 hours. As I do not have administrative works or teaching duties, these are 8 hours of research. When necessary, I do not hesitate to work at night and during weekends.
SIAA: What would most help you advance your career?
CF: I believe, the support from someone who has the power to give permanent positions: at some point someone has to trust that you can do a good job, even if you are not in an unstable position.
SIAA: What recommendation would you make to young women starting their career in astronomy?
CF: I see a lot of young women stopping research after their PhD. Probably they were not expecting the diversity this career offers: to be able to work alone, to work in a group, to give talks at conferences, to write papers, to teach, to travel, to move to new institutes every couple of years... This career is an adventure! I would encourage young women not to be scared of the unknown, to be tempted by the wild side of it: among other things, to enjoy meeting new people, and new cultures, to learn new languages and to discover oneself power of adaptation...And for those who worry because they want a family, I ask them to wonder why should they be the one to stop their career and not their partner? In my case, my partner is following me, and he is more at home and with the kids than I am and he is apparently very happy about it!
SIAA: What achievements in your career to date are you most proud of?
CF: I am very proud of being the leader of the strong lensing research in the COSMOS project. COSMOS is a huge observational project including the major ground and space based telescopes worldwide. I am convinced that an analysis of strong lensing this deep would not have been done if it was not for me. My works on this project have been very well received by the strong lensing community, and I feel very proud when my work is cited in review papers and in review talks at conferences.