University of Western Australia
Job Title: Masters student
She is an Astronomer: How many years since you got your maximum degree?
Giovanna Zanardo: I am currently a Masters Student in Astronomy and Astrophysics at UWA, my supervisor is Lister Staveley-Smith. My masters topic is the evolution of Sn 1987a.This includes use of the ATCA for observations and synthesis imaging. I also hold a PhD in structural engineering, specifically in signal processing and structures simulation. When not doing astronomy, I am a consultant specialist in vibration engineering.
SIAA: What drove you into an astronomy career?
GZ: Telescopes, love for stars, signal processing, telescopes (again), amazing structures that form out of nothing, telescopes (one more time) especially if BIG! In addition, astronomers are all open minded, they are used and able to work with people with different backgrounds, they have an amazingly practical approach to sort problems out and build phenomenal instruments.
SIAA: Do you feel it was more difficult for you to get a job or a promotion in comparison with male astronomers?
GZ: I can’t answer that from my experience in astronomy. But I think it is all based on publications and recognition to some extent, so there should be a fair chance for everyone to get promoted.
SIAA: Are women under-represented in your institution?
GZ: Yes! As far as I know in Physics at UWA there is only one female associate professor. So, that will roughly be one in 15. That is still slightly higher than the correspondent figure in engineering. However, astronomy-wise, I always felt that there is strong support and respect for women making their way in the field.
SIAA: What is your family status?
GZ: Single. One nephew.
SIAA: Have you had any career breaks?
GZ: I swapped back to full-time engineering for 7 months last year, during a crucial engineering project.
SIAA: How many hours per day do you normally dedicate to work?
GZ: I used to do 12 hours in engineering, so I do 9 to 10 in average. This does not mean that it is a productive work during the entire day. Especially in astronomy, if you run out of ideas on how to solve a problem, you are pretty stuck…
SIAA: What would most help you advance your career?
GZ: Good papers/publication always help!
SIAA: What recommendation would you make to young women starting their career in astronomy?
GZ: Astronomy is the most interesting field to work in and it is definitely waiting for more women to play an important role. There are so many opportunities out there, especially with the new telescopes under construction and the massive SKA to come!