ESO’s Francesca Primas recognised for promoting gender equity

27 September 2023

Francesca Primas, Full Astronomer at ESO, has been honoured with the inaugural Nancy Grace Roman Award by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP). Primas is the first person to receive this award, which was introduced this year to recognise an “individual or group for significant contributions to promoting gender equity and inclusion in astronomy and related fields”.

Primas is a renowned astrophysicist researching the chemical evolution of the Milky Way and its satellite galaxies. She’s also a trailblazer in promoting gender equity in astronomy in general and at ESO specifically. 

Some 15 years ago, she conducted a study on the status of women at ESO to evaluate the gender distribution across the organisation. The results were disappointing, with the study finding only 18% of staff members identified as female, but served as the basis for discussion and future action to promote diversity, equity and inclusion at ESO. Primas spearheaded much of this work, including co-founding ESO’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Since then, the percentage of staff identifying as female has grown to over 26%, with ESO aiming to increase this further. 

Primas has also served as an advisor and then chair of the International Astronomical Union’s (IAU) Working Group on Women in Astronomy. In particular, she led IAU’s AstroVoices project, which gave over 600 female astronomers and students from more than 60 countries an opportunity to share their passion for astronomy, encouraging young girls to follow their path.

In 2022, she was appointed as a Fellow of the International Science Council, a scheme that recognises individuals for their outstanding contributions to the promotion of science as a global public good. Furthermore, she has been an active voice on promoting gender equity by organising and participating in numerous task forces and panels on this topic. 

Primas will receive her award at the ASP Awards Gala on 11 November in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, US.



Bárbara Ferreira
ESO Media Manager
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6670

About the Announcement



Francesca Primas
Francesca Primas