Image of the Week

Gaia Women in Science

Gaia women at the Florence CU5 meeting this February. From left to right: Elena Pancino, Nicoletta Sanna, Giorgia Busso, Francesca De Angeli, - , Diana Harrison, Antonella Vallenari, Catrina Diener, Carla Cacciari, Anna Piersimoni, Carme Jordi. (Image credit: ESA/Gaia/DPAC/CU5)

11 February was declared to be International Day of Women and Girls in Science by the United Nations in an effort to achieve full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls, and to further achieve gender equality and empowerment of women and girls. With Gaia, we too celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, by dedicating this image of the week to the Gaia Women of Science!

Below a short overview of the distribution and participation of women in Gaia and our Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC) is given. People working for Gaia or DPAC are spread over Europe mainly. The ESA Gaia team is distributed over three ESA locations: ESOC in Germany, ESAC in Spain, and ESTEC in The Netherlands. The Gaia DPAC people are distributed over more than 100 institutes in the world, and the consortium is organised through 9 coordination units and 6 data processing centres lead by the DPAC Executive.

When looking at the entire Data Processing and Analysis Consortium consisting of about 450 people, about 25% of them are women. To put things in perspective, the International Astronomical Union membership statistics can be found here.

Within the coordination units (CUs), percentage of women ranges between 13% and 36%. For the data processing centres (DPCs) the range is even broader, varying between 8% and 38%. Be aware that these percentages do not take into account the actual FTE per person, or do not account for removing the people being active in multiple CUs. Everyone within a CU or DPC has been counted as working full time within this CU. In 2017 a study on Gender in DPAC was performed in the Gaiaverse framework, which gives a more elaborate view of the distribution of women in DPAC.


Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium Percentage of women Chair / Manager
Entire consortium 25% Male

CU1 (System Architecture)

23% Male
CU2 (Data Simulations) 36% Female
CU3 (Core Processing) 20% Male
CU4 (Object Processing) 13% Male
CU5 (Photometric Processing) 33% Male
CU6 (Spectroscopic Reduction) 34% Female
CU7 (Variability Processing) 27% Male
CU8 (Astrophysical Parameters) 33% Male
CU9 (Catalogue Access) 26% Male
DPCB - Barcelona 8% Male
DPCC - CNES, Toulouse 38% Female
DPCE - ESAC, Madrid 10% Female
DPCG - Geneva 18% Male
DPCI - IoA, Cambridge 14% Female
DPCT - Torino 22% Male


Overview of the percentage of women in the different coordination units and data processing centres in the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium, status of February 2018.


The Gaia DPAC Executive meeting at Pic du Midi. The Gaia women in this image are from left to right: Carine Babusiaux (manager of CU2), Paola Sartoretti (manager of CU6), Veronique Valette (former manager of DPCC), Francesca De Angeli (manager of DPCI) and Antonella Vallenari (DPAC deputy chair)  (Image credit: ESA/Gaia/DPAC)

The Gaia DPAC Executive oversees DPAC activities and consists of the 9 managers of the Coordination Units and a representative of the CNES Data Processing Centre. 4 out of 12 members of the DPAC Executive are female, being the representative of the CNES data processing centre, the deputy chair of the DPAC Executive and two Coordination Unit Managers. As you can see from the table as well, half of the managers of the Gaia Data Processing Centres are women.


"Being in science allows you to be creative and independent, and look at the future in the making. It is a lot of fun!" - Antonella Vallenari, DPAC Executive deputy Chair.


Gaia CNES team in Toulouse (France), a team with a majority of women. From left to right: Chantal Panem, Anne Jean-Antoine-Piccolo, Gavin Walmsley, Laurence Chaoul, François Riclet, Veronique Valette, Frederic Pailler, Julie Guiraud. (Image credit: Gaia DPCC)


The CNES Data Processing Centre shows an impressive 38% of women. Chantal Panem is in charge of the Gaia Data Processing Centre at CNES as project manager, and as such is a member of DPAC Executive.

"Women should join computer engineering and scientific studies, and not leave them to ‘geeks’. They will have very interesting opportunities in many different domains, without sacrificing their personal life and if it’s sometimes more complicated than for men, their merit is much greater." - Chantal Panem, manager of the CNES Data Processing Centre.


4 out of 9 Coordination Units have a percentage of women exceeding the 30%. Also Coordination Unit 6 responsible for the spectroscopic processing and working towards the release of more than 6 million radial velocities with Gaia Data Release 2 have a nice 34% of women represented. This Coordination Unit is lead by Paola Sartoretti.

"Be confident on what you are doing, never give up in difficult moments or when other people make you think you can't make it. It is not true, you can." - Paola Sartoretti, manager of CU6


The Gaia Science Team with the DPAC Chair. From left to right: Carme Jordi, Sergei Klioner, Caroline Soubiran, Lennart Lindegren, François Mignard, Sofia Randich, Anthony Brown (DPAC chair), Timo Prusti and Nicholas Walton. (image credit: ESA/Gaia/DPAC).


The Gaia Science Team (GST), which is the science advisory body for the Gaia mission representing the scientific community, meets several times a year to discuss scientific matters arising within the Gaia project. The Gaia Science Team consists of 3 female scientists and 4 male scientists and is complemented with the Project Scientist, who chairs the GST.


"Follow curiosity and inspiration, without being afraid and influenced by prejudice." - Sofia Randich, member of the Gaia Science Team.


"Working in science leads to a rich and rewarding life. We need women in the next generation of scientists." - Caroline Soubiran, member of the Gaia Science Team

The space-based science and technology is an incredible framework that requires innovation, initiative, creativity, enthusiasm. Every space project is the result of the joint effort of many people, everyone providing a grain of sand. Join us! - Carme Jordi, member of the Gaia Science Team.


Gaia women at the Leiden CU7 meeting last November. From left to right: Gisella Clementini, Isabelle Lecoeur-Taibi, Isabella Pagano, Maroussia Roelens, Tineke Roegiers, Elisa Distefano, Leanne Guy, Sara Regibo, Tatiana Muraveva. (Image credit: ESA/Gaia/DPAC/CU7)

Gaia women at the launch event in Turin

Gaia women at the Gaia launch event in Turin in 2013: back row, from left to right (numbers in brackets indicate which person):  Vilma Icardi (3),  Mariateresa Crosta (4), Maria Sarasso (5), Raffaella Buzzi (6), Deborah Busonero (8), Ummi Abbas (10), Paola Re Fiorentin (12); front row: Sofia Randich (2), Barbara Negri (3), Silvia Marinoni (4),  Filomena Solitro (5), Beatrice Bucciarelli (6).


Let's hope the science results obtained with Gaia data will inspire many young girls and women to choose a career in science. We hope our Gaia women can give them some extra inspiration.


"Doing science can be a source of fun and emotions, witnessing the Gaia promise to become reality is extremely exciting." - Sofia Randich, member of the Gaia Science Team.


Reaching for the stars... the Gaia fairing logo (Image credit: ESA/Gaia).


Credits: ESA/Gaia/DPAC, Tineke Roegiers, Chantal Panem, Paola Sartoretti, Sofia Randich, Antonella Vallenari, Carme Jordi, Caroline Soubiran, Francesca De Angeli

[Published: 09/02/2018]


Image of the Week Archive

11/02: Gaia Women In Science
29/01: Following-up on Gaia
19/12: 4th launch anniversary
24/11: Gaia-GOSA service
27/10: German Gaia stamp in the making
19/10: Hertzsprung-russell diagram using Gaia DR1
05/10: Updated prediction to the Triton occultation campaign
31/08: Close stellar encounters from the first Gaia data release
16/08: Preliminary view of the Gaia sky in colour
07/07: Chariklo stellar occultation follow-up
24/04: Gaia reveals the composition of asteroids
20/04: Extra-galactic observations with Gaia
10/04: How faint are the faintest Gaia stars?
24/03: Pulsating stars to study Galactic structures
09/02: Known exoplanetary transits in Gaia data
31/01: Successful second DPAC Consortium Meeting
23/12: Interactive and statistical visualisation of Gaia DR1 with vaex
16/12: Standard uncertainties for the photometric data (in GDR1)
25/11: Signature of the rotation of the galactic bar uncovered
15/11: Successful first DR1 Workshop
27/10: Microlensing Follow-Up
21/10: Asteroid Occultation
16/09: First DR1 results
14/09: Pluto Stellar Occultation
15/06: Happy Birthday, DPAC!
10/06: 1000th run of the Initial Data Treatment system
04/05: Complementing Gaia observations of the densest sky regions
22/04: A window to Gaia - the focal plane
05/04: Hipparcos interactive data access tool
24/03: Gaia spots a sunspot
29/02: Gaia sees exploding stars next door
11/02: A new heart for the Gaia Object Generator
04/02: Searching for solar siblings with Gaia
28/01: Globular cluster colour-magnitude diagrams
21/01: Gaia resolving power estimated with Pluto and Charon
12/01: 100th First-Look Weekly Report
06/01: Gaia intersects a Perseid meteoroid
18/12: Tales of two clusters retold by Gaia
11/11: Lunar transit temperature plots
06/11: Gaia's sensors scan a lunar transit
03/11: Celebrity comet spotted among Gaia's stars
09/10: The SB2 stars as seen by Gaia's RVS
02/10: The colour of Gaia's eyes
24/09: Estimating distances from parallaxes
18/09: Gaia orbit reconstruction
31/07: Asteroids all around
17/07: Gaia satellite and amateur astronomers spot one in a billion star
03/07: Counting stars with Gaia
01/07: Avionics Model test bench arrives at ESOC
28/05: Short period/faint magnitude Cepheids in the Large Magellanic Cloud
19/05: Visualising Gaia Photometric Science Alerts
09/04: Gaia honours Einstein by observing his cross
02/04: 1 April - First Look Scientists play practical joke
05/03: RR Lyrae stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud as seen by Gaia
26/02: First Gaia BP/RP deblended spectra
19/02: 13 months of GBOT Gaia observations
12/02: Added Value Interface Portal for Gaia
04/02: Gaia's potential for the discovery of circumbinary planets
26/01: DIBs in three hot stars as seen by Gaia's RVS
15/01: The Tycho-Gaia Astrometric Solution
06/01: Close encounters of the stellar kind
12/12: Gaia detects microlensing event
05/12: Cat's Eye Nebula as seen by Gaia
01/12: BFOSC observation of Gaia at L2
24/11: Gaia spectra of six stars
13/11: Omega Centauri as seen by Gaia
02/10: RVS Data Processing
12/09: Gaia discovers first supernova
04/08: Gaia flag arrives at ESAC
29/07: Gaia handover
15/07: Eclipsing binaries
03/07: Asteroids at the "photo finish"
19/06: Calibration image III - Messier 51
05/06: First Gaia BP/RP and RVS spectra
02/06: Sky coverage of Gaia during commissioning
03/04: Gaia source detection
21/02: Sky-background false detections in the sky mapper
14/02: Gaia calibration images II
06/02: Gaia calibration image I
28/01: Gaia telescope light path
17/01: First star shines for Gaia
14/01: Radiation Campaign #4
06/01: Asteroid detection by Gaia
17/12: Gaia in the gantry
12/12: The sky in G magnitude
05/12: Pre-launch release of spectrophotometric standard stars
28/11: From one to one billion pixels
21/11: The Hipparcos all-sky map
15/10: Gaia Sunshield Deployment Test
08/10: Initial Gaia Source List
17/09: CU1 Operations Workshop
11/09: Apsis
26/08: Gaia arrival in French Guiana
20/08: Gaia cartoons
11/07: Model Soyuz Fregat video
01/07: Acoustic Testing
21/06: SOVT
03/06: CU4 meeting #15
04/04: DPCC (CNES) 
26/03: Gaia artist impression 
11/02: Gaia payload testing  
04/01: Space flyby with Gaia-like data
10/12: DPAC OR#2. Testing with Planck
05/11: Galaxy detection with Gaia
09/10: Plot of part of the GUMS-10 catalogue
23/07: "Gaia" meets at Gaia
29/06: The Sky as seen by Gaia
31/05: Panorama of BAM clean room
29/03: GREAT school results
12/03: Scanning-law movie
21/02: Astrometric microlensing and Gaia
03/02: BAM with PMTS
12/01: FPA with all the CCDs and WFSs
14/12: Deployable sunshield
10/11: Earth Trojan search
21/10: First Soyuz liftoff from the French Guiana
20/09: Fast 2D image reconstruction algorithm
05/09: RVS OMA
10/08: 3D distribution of the Gaia catalogue
13/07: Dynamical Attitude Model
22/06: Gaia's view of open clusters
27/05: Accuracy of the stellar transverse velocity
13/05: Vibration test of BAM mirrors
18/04: L. Lindegren, Dr. Honoris Causa of the Observatory of Paris
19/01: Detectability of stars close to Jupiter
05/01: Delivery of the WFS flight models
21/12: The 100th member of CU3
17/11: Nano-JASMINE and AGIS
27/10: Eclipsing binary light curves fitted with DPAC code
13/10: Gaia broad band photometry
28/09: Measuring stellar parameters and interstellar extinction
14/09: M1 mirror
27/08: Quest for the Sun's siblings
Please note: Entries from the period 2003-2010 are available in this PDF document.