Jacqueline Davis - 2021 SPIE Women in Optics Planner
Research Astrophysics Technologist
NASA, High-Energy Astrophysics Division, USA
Born in USA
Math was always one of my favorite subjects, and in my freshman year of high school I took conceptual physics. The math came alive in the classroom. We did experiments three days a week and applied math to each experiment, comparing the theoretical and experimental data. I was hooked! Now at NASA, I model, design, and manufacture optics for X-ray telescopes.
The biggest obstacle for me in my career was when I had severe morning sickness with my second pregnancy and continued working. However, I was working at a university and did not secure follow-up, full-time funding. Soon after I came back from maternity leave, I was laid off. I decided to start an LLC to complete the projects that I was working on. Then, I became a full-time mom to my two daughters for three years. At that point in time I secured my current job.
I wish that someone had told me the importance of having a female STEM mentor. I sought advice from many in STEM fields, however, all of them happened to be men. Although their advice was useful, enlisting help in navigating STEM work as a female is empowering.
A STEM career is an exciting and rewarding field. There is a rush that comes with being on the front lines of technology and combining your creativity and imagination with your capacity to analyze hard data. Plus, the more young women who enter the field each generation, the more women populate the STEM workforce, and injecting more women into a predominately male field creates synergy and energizes the workforce.