Wednesday, November 4, 2009

WIA 2009 - results?

Regarding amydove's comment to WIA 2009: Criticisms that the meeting didn't really have an outcome: it will. The CSWA has been tasked to develop a Strategic Plan, which includes identification of issues to be addressed, goals to achieve, strategies by which to achieve them, and next actions.

During the meeting, we mined the crowd for ideas for our future vision and work. Issues that came up (which include some of the ones you have seen here) are:
  • the importance of mentoring, but lack of a reward system to do it;
  • the effect of unconscious bias (but not much on how to address it; hmmm);
  • the over-emphasis on the "traditional" academic career path and corresponding lack of recognition and inclusion of people pursuing "non-traditional" paths*;
  • that as women pursue a work-life balance, they tend to be more negatively impacted than men**
This is not an all-inclusive list; just a sample. When our stragetic plan is finalized, we'll post it here and in AASWomen. Let us know your ideas for what needs to be done next. What will the summary of WIA 2009 outcomes be at the next WIA meeting?

* since the traditional path is taken by a minority of people, then shouldn't we redefine "traditional" -- it certainly doesn't mean "usual" or "normal!"

** one thing from the meeting that struck me was that men with children are viewed more positively than men without (it's a marker of stability and maturity), while women with children are viewed more negatively (she'll have extra demands on her time).


Laura said...


I just wanted to let you know that the Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy's website has moved to The link here no longer works!


A said...

Regarding mentoring, especially about careers outside of academia:

One good place to start is with the Non-Academic Astronomers Network (, which lists astronomers working outside of academia, and who are interested in providing career mentoring. Types of careers represented include: Education/Public Outreach | Industry | Journalism | Law | Medicine | Private Consultant | Science Center | Science Policy | Other

Or if you are already on a non-academic career path, please consider signing up and become a resource to others for mentoring and networking!

And thank you for all the blogging from the Women in Astronomy conference, for those (like me) who could not be there.

EZ said...

A fellow grad student and I reported to our department after WIA III. One useful outcome was an explanation of "unconscious bias," a concept which most of the faculty had never encountered. Being aware of it is a start.

Another step (which one of the faculty suggested) is to make training mandatory for anyone advising students, and preferably everyone. I envision this training as being similar to the kind received by hiring/search committees at University of Michigan, described during the conference. Faculty, staff, postdocs, and grad students alike could learn about their implicit biases and use that knowledge to concretely counteract their effects.

I guess this would have to be enacted at the department level, similar to the Pasadena recommendations.