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A career based on positive role models

Anja Andersen is one of her kind in Denmark. She is specialised in something as rare as stardust and how planets are formed. She has a Ph.d in physics and astrophysics. She is a scientist, a lecturer and then she is one of the most gifted science communicators in Europe.

During her career she has come across the most enthusiastic role models but she has also had to struggle with gender stereotypes of the worst kind. She has been taught by the most gifted teachers, but also had to listen to things you wouldn’t believe existed in modern ages like: ‘You are not clever enough for physics. It is not a girl-subject’

Three teachers – the good, the better and the boring
In 7th grade Anja’s class had a replacement teacher, Uffe, who was then only studying astronomy at Copenhagen University, but was extremely dedicated. He took Anja and her classmates to watch stars at night and couldn’t help spreading his own enthusiasm. Anja was convinced that nothing was more interesting than the universe.
Then at high school her passion almost died. She had to specialise in mathematics and physics and the teacher bored her to death. At that point she nearly gave up.

Luckily she decided to start astronomy studies anyway at the university at Nils Bohr’s Institute. And here the stars started to shine again. Her teacher was the most gifted science communicator of them all, Jens Martin Knudsen, and from that day on she never doubted her choice of career.

When a negative influence becomes a driver
When Anja was a female science student in both high school and university she often met male teachers and colleagues that she simply had to prove wrong. When she decided to start researching she was told, that it wasn’t possible to be a scientist and raise a family at the same time. That it took a 100% dedication and there wasn’t space for anything else than your career. When she was expecting twins her supervisor said: ‘Too bad. You seemed so skilled at this’.
Anja is now 45, she is a prize winning senior lecturer, she is married and has raised three children. Nuff’ said.

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