Why are you in this industry/occupation?
My field (Laser Guide Star Adaptive Optics) brings together two early passions of mine, lasers and astronomy. Whether I have been working as an engineer in an astronomical observatory or as a researcher in a university setting, I have had the opportunity to apply my physics knowledge as well as my engineering skills to provide astronomers with the tools they need to further our understanding of the universe. Ultimately, science and human knowledge is what motivates me.
What are the benefits?
Becoming a recognised expert in your field is a great place to be. You work alongside people who are passionate about and amazingly good at what they do. There are so many opportunities to learn along the way! Places to go, people to meet…Astronomy is a relatively small but very international field, and instrumentation is even smaller, so you get to know most of the people working in your field and meet them at conferences all over the world. Team work and collaborations are key to success.
What are the drawbacks?
It’s not always easy to reconcile long working hours on remote mountain tops in the middle of nowhere with family life. Being organised and planning ahead are important attributes of any engineer or research scientist doing field work. Also there aren’t usually that many females around in instrumentation teams, but in most cases I found that challenge rather empowering. There isn’t anything that you can’t do if you’ve set your mind to it!
Why do you encourage other women and girls to consider this industry/occupation?
Engineering and science are exciting! And so rewarding when you develop new technologies, enable new discoveries, or make those discoveries yourself. Life is too short not to have fun in your daily occupations. All the female engineers and scientists I know are awesome. Whether you work in astronomy, biology, chemistry…you could be one of them!