School of Mathematical Sciences, Monash University
Job Title: Senior Lecturer
She is an Astronomer: How many years since you got your maximum degree?
Alina Donea: 9 years.
SIAA: What is the most senior position you have achieved?
AD: Senior Lecturer
SIAA: What drove you into an astronomy career?
AD: Passion and the freedom of mind that one has in this research field.
SIAA: Do you feel it was more difficult for you to get a job or a promotion in comparison with male astronomers?
AD: No, it was not too difficult, although I had to cope with many nights of not sleeping just to finish work (teaching and research) in time, especially with a baby at home.
SIAA: Are women under-represented in your institution?
AD: Yes.There are 4 women and almost 30 male colleagues.
SIAA: What is your family status?
AD: Separated with a 3 year old girl. I have no family in Australia, but a big family in Romania.
SIAA: Have you had any career breaks?
AD: Threemonths maternity leave, then I adopted a flexible working time.
SIAA: How difficult did you find the return to work?
AD: It was difficult to return to work and breastfeed, then it was difficult to put the kid in childcare and concentrate at work. It was my choice. I could have just taken more maternity leave on unpaid leave but I chose to work. I adopted a flexible working program, so we do childcare (never more than 5-6-7 hours/day), and plenty of extra activities. So, for me the solution is to have flexible work program.
SIAA: How many hours per day do you normally dedicate to work?
AD: It depends. Against a deadline, I spend intensively up to 10 hours per day and night. Otherwise,8 hours in average per day, less at the weekend. Nights help a lot.
SIAA: What would most help you advance your career?
AD: Less teaching load.
SIAA: What recommendation would you make to young women starting their career in astronomy?
AD: It is a tough world, we start shy when we speak publicly or we see that we are under represented in a big conference, but in time we can overcome this, we gain strength and we learn how to be multitasking women and mums. As a single mother, I have built up in time the strength to continue my work, to inspire my child, to enjoy. It is hard, but it can be done. A nice friendly work environment counts hips. We just have to trust ourselves and God.
SIAA: What have been your career highlights so far?
AD: 1. Discoveries of more than a dozen of solar quakes (the first solar quake was discovered by Drs Zharkova and Kosovichev in 1998) . Within Monash University I have built in collaboration with Prof . Paul Cally a large solar physics group, unique in Australia with fantastic research outputs.2. High energy astrophysics of black holes, mainly accretion disk physics and the symbiosis between jets and black holes in active galactic nuclei.