INAF - Osservatorio Astronomico di Bologna
Job Title: Professor
She is an Astronomer: How many years since you got your maximum degree?
Monica Tosi: 31 years.
SIAA: What is the most senior position you have acheived?
MT: Full professorship; Chair of the ESO Observing Programme Committee in 2008.
SIAA: Do you feel it was more difficult for you to get a job or a promotion in comparison with male astronomers?
MT: I have never felt that my career had been delayed for gender reasons, but I think I've been luckier than many other Italian female astronomers. If one looks at the fraction of women in the three levels of career for Italian astronomers (from about 50% women at the entrance level, to about 10% at the top) it is clear that there is a problem. Moreover, the recruitment of young scientists is significantly going down in my country and this may have worse effects on women.
SIAA: Are women under-represented in your institution?
MT: The fraction of woman astronomers in the Bologna Observatory is good, 44%, probably higher than in other Astronomy Institutes.
SIAA: What is your family status?
MT: Married to an astronomer (Gianni Zamorani) with one son.
SIAA: Have you had any career breaks?
MT: I didn't have any break (formally I had to stop 5 months for maternity leave, but I kept working at home). I think having an astronomer as partner does help in the private life organization, since both partners share the astronomy way of living.
SIAA: How many hours per day do you normally dedicate to work?
SIAA: What would most help you advance your career?
MT: Less bureaucracy and more financial support on a peer reviewed basis.
SIAA: What recommendation would you make to young women starting their career in astronomy?
MT: Girls who choose to get their degree in Astronomy are usually already very motivated. My suggestion to them is to maintain this attitude all their life: enjoy a profession which allows fantastic scientific research as well the possibility to meet people from all around the world and see that we are all the same; don't act as if there were actual differences between woman and man astronomers; don't give up if you do face evidence of discrimination and fight it back; don't give up your right of making the best choice for your career, independently of what your family or partner may initially think. From the many young astronomers I've seen during the years I get the impression that women are ready to go abroad for their PhD or for post-doc fellowships possibly more than men, but are more often prevented in pursuing it by their partners/family: don't let them stop you. Going abroad and seeing your relatives only once on a while is tough, but allows you to broaden your perspective, to meet many more people, to learn not only more astrophysics but also how to be independent, and at the end it always pays off.