siaa_logo_blue Rachel Akeson akeson_circle

NASA Exoplanet Science Institute, IPAC, Caltech

Pasadena, California, USA
Job Title: Associate Research Scientist


'She is an Astronomer': How long is it since you got your maximum academic degree?

Rachel Akeson: 13 years.

SIAA: What is the most senior position that you have achieved?

RA: Deputy Director.

SIAA: Do you feel it was more difficult for you to get a job or a promotion in comparison with male astronomers?

RA: When looking for my first permanent job, I had to deal with the two-body problem. Although we did find a good solution it was extremely stressful and took a year. This issue seems to affect a larger percentage of women in astronomy.

SIAA: Are women under-represented in your institution?

RA: At the junior level, there are many women scientists at IPAC but only a few women at the senior level.

SIAA: What is your family status?

RA: Married with 2 children.

SIAA: Have you had career breaks?

RA: No.

SIAA: How many hours per day do you normally dedicate to work?

RA: 10 hours.

SIAA: What recommendations would you make to young women starting their career in astronomy?

RA: There are many different kinds of positions for professional astronomers. Many faculty members are most familiar with the path they chose - working and teaching at a college or university. But there are many other options, such as working at a national lab or research center or taking a science degree into public policy. Spend some time to think about what you enjoy doing in astronomy and then talk to people in those positions to find out how to get there.