Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Request for Guiding Questions/Comments -- 'Transforming Cultural Norms' Panel Discussion at Boston AAS

The AAS Committee on the Status of Women and the AAS Committee on the Status of Minorities are co-hosting a Special Session on Tuesday, May 24th from 2-3:30 pm at the Boston AAS meeting.


A growing number of universities, government labs, and other institutions have established scientific networking and peer mentoring groups for early career (undergraduate, graduate student, postdocs, and new faculty) women and minorities. These groups provide a promising channel for addressing retention and other equity issues. The goals of this panel discussion are (1) to provide information to the community on how to organize, fund, and ensure their sustainability and institutionalization and (2) to present examples showing how departments have managed to change the climate so that mentoring and networking groups become accepted as the norm.

The panelists are:

1. James Ulvestad -- Director of the Division of Astronomical Sciences at NSF, former CSWA member, led the astro2010 demographics study group, and more.
2. Ed Bertschinger -- Chair of the MIT Physics department and deeply involved in a number of mentoring, networking, and cultural change initiatives.
2. Kim Coble -- Astrophysics faculty at Chicago State University, a minority serving institution, and deeply involved in mentoring and pipeline issues.
3. Marcel Agueros -- Astronomy faculty and associate director of Columbia University's bridge-to-PhD program for minority students.
5. Meredith Danowski -- Astronomy PhD student and co-founder of Boston University's women in STEM mentoring and networking program.

We plan to provide the panelists a list of guiding questions prior to the meeting, to help frame their thinking and the subsequent discussion. We'd like to solicit from you, dear reader, questions and/or comments that you'd particularly like to have this panel address or examples of successes or failures you'd like for them to consider.

We'll be videotaping the session and posting it online after the meeting. We'll also use this blog as a space for follow-up. So even if you are not planning to attend the May AAS, you'll have the opportunity to hear the answer to your question and participate in further discussion.

--Posted by Laura Trouille

2 comments:

Stephanie said...

I think this session is a great idea and I look forward to attending! We have recently started a Diversity group at the Physics and Astronomy Department at Johns Hopkins. In terms of informal networking opportunities, what events/activities have been most successful? How do you set up events without sounding exclusive and what responses do you have to critics who perceive these events as exclusive (e.g. "Why do you have a women's lunch? Why can't there be a men's lunch?")?

L. Trouille said...

Thank you for this comment. The question of inclusion/exclusion is an important one, layered with subtleties.

Your comment has reminded me to say to those of you currently involved in a mentoring/networking group --- Please pass on my request to the others in your group and/or take a moment to brainstorm as a group questions you'd like to have addressed & send them my way.

Thanks!