Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Resource Guide for Websites for Women in STEM (with an emphasis on Astronomy)

As someone who has spoken up for women within our field, people tend to come to me for advice from time to time.  One question that I have repeatedly received is “do you know of one great STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) resource for women in our field or young women looking to enter this profession?”  And every time I say "no, I know of way more than one, " then Google every website I can think of that I have found useful previously.  The person usually leaves with their head swimming full of websites, and likely forgets most of what I said within minutes (but now knows I have a strange relationship with my iPhone and Google).  So I’m going to use my blog time this month to include the many sites that I have found useful, add some others that have been suggested to me along the way, and hopefully readers will take the opportunity to chime in on the comments section of this blog to add their own useful sites.  I’ll focus on websites targeting issues for women already in the STEM field, but will highlight one site that points out several resources for younger women/girls looking to enter in to the field. So the next time someone asks this question, this blog can be easily pointed to as a starting point.
The Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy site: As a member of the Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy (CSWA), I could not start this piece without of course citing our own website.  The CSWA site is full of resources to help women in the field succeed and find solutions to difficult problems.  The advice section, as well as the resources section, are great places to look for advice, articles, and resources on topics such as the 2-body problem, harassment and bullying, careers, negotiating skills, raising families, teaching and mentoring, etc.  The Resources page has a rather exhaustive list of articles websites dedicated to specialized topics, as well as another section that links to several other committees and associations webpages.  The CSWA site also includes links to this blog, previous Women in Astronomy Meetings, the STATUS publication, the AASWomen newsletters (going all the way back to 1999), statistics, history of the CSWA, and contact information for the current CSWA members.  The External Links contains a non-exhaustive list of web links that are relevant to Women in Astronomy, including the sister organizations for the CSWA, such as the CSMA (Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy) and WGLE (Working Group on LGBTIQ Equality).
CSMA: The Committee on that Status of Minorities in Astronomy’s Website contains a plethora of information.  The SPECTRUM newsletter is linked to the site, as well as links to past events and activities hosted by the CSMA.   Statistics and Minority Issues also are highlighted on this site.  The resources page links to other organizations, societies, and committees dealing with issues affecting minorities within our field.
WGLE: The Working Group on LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, or questioning) Equality (WGLE, pronounced “wiggly”) was created to make the profession of astronomy more equitable and diverse through directly addressing issues that affect the LGBTIQ community.  The website for the working Group contains web resources, upcoming projects, a best practices brochure, and a link to their newest report on Supporting LGBT+ Physicists and Astronomers: Best Practices for Academic Departments.
Women in Planetary Science Group: The website for the Women in Planetary Science Group (a group started by the late Dr. Susan Niebur, who was known for her inspirational work to support women, families, and early career scientists in planetary sciences) is a very similar website to the CSWA’s site and provides useful information for women within the field of planetary sciences.  Planetary Science and Astronomy are two fields uniquely connected, with many scientists crossing between the two disciplines (I, myself, am one of those scientists), and as such, many scientists are able to benefit from information on sites dedicated to both fields (although many of the studies and information presented would be useful to any scientist, in any field).  The group features an interview piece on 51+ Women in Planetary Science, a blogroll of current topics, a career/jobs page, E/PO page, and a page on previous studies with regards to demographics in the field.  The page also connects to a Pinterest created to highlight women in the field and includes information on over 4oo female planetary scientists.
STEMWomen: STEMWomen began on Google+ in 2012 to help the public connect with women who work in STEM, however have moved on to their broader website to create a safe place for people of all genders to discuss how we can work together to make STEM more inclusive.  The website is actually one of my favorites to go to for in-depth information on issues and for inspiration.  The site is geared towards a deeper understanding of gender relations within the field, and also highlights issues affecting minority women.  There are entire sections for resources, advice, evidence, role models, male perspectives, solutions, etc.  The main aims, according to the site are: 1. Make women in STEM more visible to the public, with a special focus on women scientists on Google+, 2. Promote careers for women in STEM, 3. Highlight issues of gender inequality, and 4. Address solutions to improve women’s participation, inclusion, leadership and recognition in STEM.
Issues affecting Women in STEM: As part of Sarah Rugheimer’s research page at Harvard’s Center for Astrophysics, she has created a highly useful repository of peer-reviewed research.  According to Sarah, “I created this website to be a repository of peer-reviewed research for biases against women in STEM fields. Often I find the skepticism raised by men and women unaware of implicit bias revolves around the fact that many people think it is either a) no longer an issue in the modern department b) objective scientists wouldn't make these logic reasoning errors or c) that there are only a few studies. Hence, my site tends to try to highlight peer-reviewed research showing the bias still exists over many studies and is much stronger than we often want to admit even to ourselves as conscientious men and women. I try to update it with the current studies and links as I find them, so please email me at: srugheimer@cfa.harvard.edu if you have any peer-reviewed studies not listed.”
40 Important Online Resources for Women in STEM: This particular website is a blog write-up piece featuring 40 sites that are working to highlight women in STEM, discuss the larger issues affecting those within the field (and the resulting glass ceiling limitations), and encouraging girls/women to pursue careers within STEM subjects.
STEMWire: STEMwire is a website dedicated to relaying information about STEM initiatives and news within the field that may not necessarily be reported in the mainstream media.  This includes highlighting teachers in STEM, and resources for recruiting the younger generation into STEM.  One particular article featured 8 organizations promoting young girls to become the next women in STEM.


Again, this is only meant to be a starting point.  What suggestions do you have for additions to this?