Niels Bohr Institute
Job Title: Professor
She is an Astronomer: How many years since you got your maximum degree?
Birgitta Nordström: 35 years.
SIAA: Do you feel it was more difficult for you to get a job or a promotion in comparison with male astronomers?
BN: Yes, but things have changed during the past 30 years. My male colleagues of my generation in Denmark all got permanent jobs at a young age when the university expanded. After that time no permanent jobs were available for decades. Discrimination is very difficult to prove for an individual.
SIAA: Are women under-represented in your institution?
BN:The number of women decreases for each career step and for the senior staff it is below 10%.
SIAA: What is your family status?
BN: I am married to a colleague, have 3 children and 4 grandchildren.
SIAA: Have you had any career breaks?How difficult did you find the return to work?
BN: Shorter breaks for maternity leave did not create any problems.
SIAA: How many hours per day do you normally dedicate to work?
BN: About 10, but that has varied during the years. I travel a lot also to very interesting places and then working hours is a matter of definition.
SIAA: What would most help you advance your career?
BN: To get more time for research.
SIAA: What recommendation would you make to young women starting their career in astronomy?
BN: Be ambitious, work hard and chose your supervisor with care. Find a mentor, build up a network and try to understand the unwritten rules of the game. Expose yourself to the astronomical community and present your work as often as you can. Do not spend too many working hours on things that are not important for your CV. BUT remember that what works for one person might not work for another. You must find your own way.
SIAA: What achievements in your career to date have you been most proud of?
BN: Unexpected results from several large research projects, and that one of my daughters has become a very successful physicist.