Thursday, July 28, 2022

Crosspost: ‘Follow your dreams,’ writes astronomer Martha Haynes

Written by Linda B. Glaser for the Cornell Chronicle
The Sky is for Everyone is an international collaboration of essays featuring prominent women in astronomy, including Jocelyn Bell Burnell. Credit: Princeton University Press
When Martha Haynes was thirteen years old, her brother convinced her to give him a big chunk of her babysitting money so he could buy a telescope. He never used it much, but Haynes found the night sky fascinating.

“I remember showing the rings of Saturn and the moons of Jupiter to a couple of passing police officers one night,” she wrote. The thrill she got from explaining to them what they were seeing has never left her.

“To me, interacting with students inside and outside of the classroom is the greatest reward of my academic profession,” wrote Haynes, Distinguished Professor of Arts and Sciences in Astronomy in the College of Arts and Sciences. Her chapter, “Hands on Adventures with Telescopes: From the Backyard to Cerro Chajnantor,” appears in “The Sky Is for Everyone: Women Astronomers in Their Own Words,” edited by Virginia Trimble and David A. Weintraub.

Read more about Dr. Haynes' groundbreaking career in astronomy at the link below: 

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Crosspost: Gender equality in astronomy is still a work in progress

Written by Toni Feder for Physics Today
Participants at a 1992 Space Telescope Science Institute workshop drafted and signed the Baltimore Charter for Women in Astronomy. Credit: Photo courtesy of Meg Urry

Nearly 30 years ago, in December 1992, some 165 astronomers signed the Baltimore Charter for Women in Astronomy, a call for gender equality in the field. At the time, the charter seemed “powerful and radical,” says Meg Urry, a professor of physics and astronomy at Yale University. Looking back now, she says, it seems “tame.”

The charter points out, for example, that “women and men are equally capable of doing excellent science,” that “diversity contributes to, rather than conflicts with, excellence in science,” and that the existing systems for recruiting, evaluating, training, and recognizing astronomers “often prevent the equal participation of women.” Five multipart recommendations suggest actions to improve gender equality. Those include having women participate in the selection process for new hires; publicizing demographics for astronomical organizations; broadening criteria for hiring, promoting, assignments, and awards to accommodate different career pacing; ensuring physical safety for astronomers, who may work alone in observatories; and ending sexual harassment.

The charter had its genesis at a place that, for many years, was notorious for being unfriendly to women: the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI). Urry joined the faculty there in 1990, doubling the number of women among the roughly 60 faculty astronomers there.

Friday, July 15, 2022

AASWomen Newsletter for July 15, 2022

AAS Committee on the Status of Women AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of July 15, 2022
eds: Jeremy Bailin, Nicolle Zellner, Alessandra Aloisi, and Sethanne Howard

[We hope you all are taking care of yourselves and each other. Be well! --eds.]
From Item 7.

This week's issues:

1. Cal-Bridge program receives $5M in California state budget

2. Student evaluations show gender bias even in most equal country

3. Meet the Woman Who Makes the James Webb Space Telescope Work

4. NASA SMD Bridge Program Workshop

5. EEOC Issues Report on Women in STEM Jobs in the Federal Sector

6. Interview Series: Dr. Lia Medeiros

7. The Explosive Ambitions of Kate the Chemist

8. How to Submit to the AASWOMEN newsletter

9. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWOMEN newsletter

10. Access to Past Issues

An online version of this newsletter will be available at at 3:00 PM ET every Friday.

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Crosspost: Science must overcome its racist legacy: Nature’s guest editors speak

Nature editors Chad Womack, Elizabeth Wathuti, Ambroise Wonkam, and Melissa Nobles will be releasing a series of special issues on the intersection of racism and science. Credit: Gretchen Ertl and University of Cape Town. 
Science is a human endeavour that is fuelled by curiosity and a drive to better understand and shape our natural and material world. Science is also a shared experience, subject both to the best of what creativity and imagination have to offer and to humankind’s worst excesses. For centuries, European governments supported the enslavement of African populations and the subjugation of Indigenous people around the world. During that period, a scientific enterprise emerged that reinforced racist beliefs and cultures. Apartheid, colonization, forced labour, imperialism and slavery have left an indelible mark on science.

Although valiant and painful freedom struggles eventually led to decolonization, the impacts of those original racist beliefs continue to reverberate and have been reified in the institutional policies and attitudes that govern the ‘who’ and ‘how’ of individuals’ participation in the modern, global scientific enterprise. In our opinion, racist beliefs have contributed to a lack of diversity, equity and inclusion, and the marginalization of Indigenous and African diasporic communities in science on a national and global scale.

Science and racism share a history because scientists, science’s institutions and influential supporters of science either directly or indirectly supported core racist beliefs: the idea that race is a determinant of human traits and capacities (such as the ability to build civilizations); and the idea that racial differences make white people superior. Although the most egregious forms of racism are unlawful, racism persists in science and affects diverse communities worldwide. Following the murder of George Floyd in 2020 and the expansion of the Black Lives Matter movement into science, Nature was among those institutions that pledged to listen, learn and change. In an Editorial1, it said, “The enterprise of science has been — and remains — complicit in systemic racism, and it must strive harder to correct those injustices and amplify marginalized voices.”

Read the rest of the editorial here and look out for the first of Nature's series and science and racism at the end of this year.