siaa_logo_blue Elizabeth Wylie de Boer

Mt Stromlo Observatory, Australian National University

Canberra, Australia

Job Title: Post Doctoral Fellow



She is an Astronomer: How many years since you got your maximum degree?

Elizabeth Wylie de Boer: 2 years.


SIAA: What drove you into an astronomy career?

EWB:  I have wanted to be an astronomer since I was about 10 years old.  My Dad bought me a telescope and I had a Physics teacher at high school who was very encouraging.  I love the magic of it, combined with the problem solving and the fact that research is always new.

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

EWB: Not yet.  I suspect my views on this may change with time.


SIAA: Are women under-represented in your institution?

EWB: Yes, very under-represented.  There are NO women in permanent positions.  There are four female post-docs.


SIAA: What is your family status?

EWB: Married, no children yet.


SIAA: Have you had any career breaks?

EWB: I had a self-inflicted career break to have some time off (6 months) after my PhD.


SIAA: How difficult did you find the return to work?

EWB: I felt the time off improved my motivation and enthusiasm for the job.  However, this was effectively a year with no publications so I worry if it will affect future job prospects.


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

EWB: Anything from eight hours during a normal working week to as many as 16+ when observing.


SIAA: What would most help you advance your career?

EWB: Knowing how to juggle my career with having a family, and successfully achieving both!  Having a female role model who was achieved what I want to.  Also, more publications.  Always more publications.  And a HUGE discovery would help no end too.


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

EWB: Believe in yourself and your ability and don’t let men (or anyone, for that matter) intimidate you.  Don’t doubt yourself - and learn to fake confidence, even when you don’t necessarily feel it – the real thing will come in time (or so I’m told).


SIAA: What have been your career highlights so far?

EWB: Having not had much of career in which to highlight yet, I would have to say obtaining my PhD was pretty good.  Also, I was applying for post-doc positions for a while during the end of my PhD, and found it so hard I eventually began to look outside the field (awful!) - it was pretty cool when a job offer finally came through!