Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Nashville Recommendations for Inclusive Astronomy

In June 2015, 160 astronomers, sociologists, policy makers and community leaders convened the first Inclusive Astronomy meeting at Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, TN. The goal of this meeting was to discuss the issues affecting people of color; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, genderqueer/genderfluid, agender, intersex, queer, questioning, or asexual (LGBTIQA*) people; people with disabilities; women; people disenfranchised by their socio-economic status; and everyone who holds more than one of these underrepresented identities in the astronomical community.  A key focus of this meeting was examination of issues of intersectionality: the well-established conceptualization that racism, sexism, heterosexism, transphobia, and ableism are often linked (e.g., that women of color are faced with the intersection of racism and sexism).  Here is a summary of the final version which the AAS Council has endorsed.
The full Inclusive Astronomy 2015 Recommendations are available here.

Monday, July 25, 2016

An ongoing act of creation - Professional Organizations & Policy

Today I’d like to explore a question - What are professional societies for? I’m hoping this anecdote from a meeting I recently attended will help you interrogate your place in our professional societies - Who do we pay money to? Where does it go? What do you hope to get out of a group for yourself, your students, your colleagues? What role do our societies play in our larger world? 

I recently attended the SPIE (Society for Professional Industrial Engineers) Astronomical Instrumentation conference. SPIE Astro draws astronomers, but also engineers of all stripes (mechanical, optical, electrical, software, systems) from all career stages. There are a variety of tracks including observatory management, and those focusing on all varieties of earth and ground based facilities, as well as the technology that enables them.

It also an incredibly homogenous conference. I’m going to be honest, it is particularly oppressive. There is often 5-10% women in the room at any given time. Although an international conference, it is heavily Western European especially in the visible roles. It is very white. It is exhausting.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Cross-Post: "We Got This," featuring take aways from the United State of Women Conference

This feature is a re-post from The Huffingpost, and is hosted on the Huffington Post’s Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and post freely to their site. The original piece can be found here.

About the author: Kimberly Arcand is Visualization Lead for the Chandra X-ray Observatory. She is a co-author of popular science books including “Light: The Visible Spectrum and Beyond“ and “Your Ticket to the Universe: A Guide to Exploring the Cosmos.”

Illustration: NASA/CXC/K.Divona

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

CIERA REU Career Panel Discussion

By Aaron Geller

Aaron Geller is director of the Northwestern CIERA REU program and an NSF Astronomy & Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellow (AAPF) jointly appointed at Northwestern and the Adler Planetarium.  In addition to his REU/EPO activities, Aaron develops astronomy visualizations and researches star clusters and stellar evolution. His interests include dynamics in a star cluster environment and the binary and multiple stars and planetary systems that live inside, and how star clusters contribute to the production of exotic systems.  

Continuing our annual tradition, Northwestern University's CIERA Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) program hosted a live, online Career Panel discussion last week for our summer undergraduate researchers, hosted by the director of the CIERA REU program, Aaron Geller. The archived video can be found here:

Astronomers develop an incredibly useful (and employable!) set of skills while pursuing their degree and research interests. The latest stats indicate that while ~75% of recent astronomy Ph.D.s accepted a postdoc position, over 80% eventually pursue careers outside the tenure track faculty route.  

Similar to last year, one theme running through this panel discussion was the transference of skills and knowledge obtained during our panelists' Ph.D. to their current jobs, and what opportunities students should pursue during graduate school to prepare themselves for the range of careers available. 

Melissa Nysewander - Director of Data Science at Fidelity Investments
Leslie Sage - Senior Editor, Physical Sciences, Nature
Colette Salyk - Faculty Vassar College
Francesca Valsecci - Data Scientist / Consultant at Clarity Solution Group
Eric Wilcots - Faculty/Dean University of Wisconsin - Madison

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Cross-posting: Solidarity from APS COM & AAPT COD

Dear Members of the Physics Community,

We, the undersigned, members of the American Physical Society’s Committee on Minorities (APS COM) and the American Association of Physics Teachers Committee on Diversity (AAPT COD) stand with Black physicists and all members of the Black community in the U.S. as we are faced with the recent killings, within 36 hours, of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of police. Although Sterling and Castile are referenced here and are the impetus for this statement, we note that their names add to a long list of police injustice against Black people as well as other people of color.

Last night, during a protest in Dallas affirming the value of Black lives, snipers unaffiliated with the protest killed 5 officers, and wounded 7 officers and 2 civilians, further highlighting the violence and tragedy that systemic racism can bring about.

These events affect the physics community. Safety, justice, and equality underlie our ability to succeed at all endeavors, including physics. Systemic racism exists. Systemic racism exists in physics. And we all must work tirelessly to challenge the structures that allow it to exist.

The APS COM and AAPT COD are dedicated to building a community where people of color can learn and practice physics free from racial harassment, bias, and fear. We are alarmingly far from this goal and we call on the entire physics community to join us in making this endeavor a reality. One way to move toward this goal is to engage in self-education and anti-racism training to build understanding in the ways that power structures combine with bias and racism to differentially impact physicists of color. This understanding is critical to our ability to affect change. We must create a climate that encourages and supports people of color in their pursuit of physics and physics careers.

The undersigned affirm our commitment that Black lives matter and that racial justice matters, in our society and in the physics community.

Nadya Mason, Chair, APS COM
Edmundo Garcia, APS COM
Angela Little, APS COM
Marie Lopez del Puerto, APS COM
Jesús Pando, APS COM
William Ratcliff, APS COM
Luis G. Rosa, APS COM
Dimitri Dounas-Frazer, Chair, AAPT COD
Ximena C. Cid, AAPT COD
Abigail R. Daane, AAPT COD
Deepak Iyer, AAPT COD
Mamadou Keita, AAPT COD
Geoff Potvin, AAPT COD
Mel Sabella, AAPT COD
Monica Plisch, APS Director of Education and Diversity
Asmaa Khatib, APS Bridge Program Coordinator
Arlene Modeste Knowles, APS liaison to COM
Kathryne Sparks Woodle, APS Education & Diversity Programs Manager

Please reach out to APS COM and APS COD for strategies and resources on working toward equity in our field.

This statement is an unofficial statement by members of the American Physical Society Committee on Minorities and the American Association of Physics Teachers Committee on Diversity. These are our personal views and the statement has not been officially endorsed by the APS, APS COM, AAPT, or AAPT COD formally.

Friday, July 8, 2016

AASWomen Newsletter for July 8, 2016

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of July 8, 2016
eds: Nicolle Zellner, Elysse Voyer, Heather Flewelling, and Christina Thomas

This week's issues:

1. Black Lives Matter - In Solidarity 
2. Astronomer to Health Care Data Scientist        
3. People Deem Feminine Women Less Likely to Be Scientists
4. Men cite themselves more than women do
5. “We Got This”
6. Gender Summit Europe 2016
7. UK risks losing over 33,000 much-needed female scientists each year, research shows 
8. Tips for Getting Girls Involved in STEM  
9. How to Submit to the AASWomen Newsletter
10. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWomen Newsletter
11. Access to Past Issues of the AASWomen Newsletter


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Black Lives Matter - In Solidarity

We are cross-posting here from the "Astronomers in Color" blog. We are in solidarity with our Black colleagues today.

Dear fellow astronomers,

The recent extrajudicial killings of two Black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, by the police have shocked, disturbed, and frightened many of us today. We express our unequivocal repulsion to these acts, which are just one manifestation of the underlying systemic racism in our country. These events affect our community directly. Many Black astronomers in this country, especially those in junior positions, are suffering at this moment. We encourage all of you to be mindful as you reach out to our fellow Black astronomers, and be present with them during these difficult times. The undersigned reaffirm our commitment to ensure the inclusion, support, and safety of every Black person in astronomy.

Black Lives Matter!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Astronomer to Health Care Data Scientist

The AAS Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy and the AAS Employment Committee have compiled dozens of interviews highlighting the diversity of career trajectories available to astronomers. The interviews share advice and lessons learned from individuals on those paths.

Below is our interview with Kimberly Scott, an astronomer turned health care data scientist.

For access to all our Career Profile Project interviews, please visit New Career Profiles are posted approximately every month.