AAS Logo

Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy

Courtney Morrow, WKU Class of 2012


Past Events & Activities Statistics & Issues

News and Events

(Jan 2015) The First Inclusive Astronomy Conference has been announced, and organizers are inviting the participation of all to the meeting to be held June 17-19, 2015, at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Inclusive Astronomy 2015 will serve as a welcoming, strategic venue to advocate and provide resources for the inclusion in the astronomy community of: people of color; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, or questioning (LGBTIQ) people; people with disabilities; women; and anyone who holds more than one of these identities. Those who seek to aid in such inclusion are also invited to attend. The organizing committee includes members of the Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy, Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy, and Working Group on LGBTIQ Equality of the American Astronomical Society. The conference homepage is https://vanderbilt.irisregistration.com/Home/Site?code=InclusiveAstronomy2015 and registration begins February 1.

(Jan 2015) The 2015 Conference of the National Society of Black Physicists will be held February 25-28, 2015 at the Hilton Baltimore in Baltimore, MD. The conference, themed as ?Re-Vision The Future of Scientific Leadership?, will consist of three full days of educational sessions, exhibitions, and interactive networking opportunities, as well as a student career fair and poster sessions on cutting edge issues related to current trends in physics and science. Registration deadlines are January 30 for students and February 9 for faculty/professionals. See http://www.cvent.com/d/0yHMwHQTIUGYgOFfoNaL6w/dlzw/P1/1Q? for registration and details.

(Jan 2015) New issue of SPECTRUM now available! Articles by:

  • Adam Burgasser on the Costs of taking the GRE and the UC-HBCU program
  • Kevin Covey on the NSBP Meeting, 26-28 February 2015
  • Chanda Prescod-Weinstein on Intersectionality
  • North American Students of Cooperation guidebook on Being an Ally
  • Keivan Stassun on the First Inclusive Astronomy Meeting
  • Alexander Rudolph & Tammy Smecker-Hane on the Cal-Bridge Partnership
  • Meet the CSMA Council Members
  • and News You Can Use

(Jan 2014) New issue of SPECTRUM now available! Articles by:

  • Kathy Cooksey on I!mposter Syndrome
  • Calvin Ortega on why there are so few Native American astronomers
  • Dara Norman, Jedidah Isler, Hakeem Oluseyi, Nancy Morrison, Caroline Simpson and Laura Trouille on women of color in astronomy & astrophysics Why So Few Native American Astronomers?
  • Meet the new CSMA committee members and chair
  • and News You Can Use

(Jan 2014) Presentations from the AAS Special Session on the use of GRE scores for graduate admissions are now posted; also check out presentations from the APS Bridge Program 2013 Summer Meeting

(Dec 2013) Special Session at the January 2014 223rd AAS Meeting: The Proper Use of GRE Scores for Enhancing Diversity and Excellence in Astronomy and Physics Graduate Programs

Organized by Keivan Stassun (Vanderbilt University, Fisk University)
Co-sponsored by the Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy (CSMA), the Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy (CSWA), and the Associated Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA)

Standardized test scores (GREs) are a staple of graduate admissions criteria in physics and astronomy graduate programs. It has long been known that GRE scores are powerfully correlated with gender and ethnicity. New research (Miller 2013) shows that women score on average ~60 points lower than men and African Americans score on average ~150 points lower than Caucasians on the General GRE Quantitative exam. It is common practice in top-tier physics and astronomy graduate programs to adopt a GRE "cutoff" on the quantitative GRE of ~700, either as a matter of policy or else as a subjective but strong weight. The new research shows that applying such a cutoff immediately eliminates more than two-thirds of women, roughly three-quarters of Hispanics, and nearly all African Americans from the applicant pool. This session will present a summary of this important new research (including recent research on the Physics GRE subject exam), will present complementary strategies that have been demonstrated to successfully predict success, and will engage the community in an open discussion of best practices for sustaining a commitment to broadened participation while maintaining standards of excellence focused on successful scientific careers.

Wednesday, January 8, 10:00-11:30am.

Session Schedule:
  • Presentation by Casey Miller (University of South Florida) on GRE correlations with gender, ethnicity and PhD outcomes
  • Presentation by William Sedlacek (University of Maryland): "Why Doesn't The GRE or GPA Work in Selecting Graduate Students & What Alternatives Are There?"
  • Presentation by Jillian Bellovary (Vanderbilt University, Fisk University): "Going beyond standardized exams in graduate admissions: Enhancing diversity and predicting success (Lessons from the Fisk-Vanderbilt Bridge Program)"
    [PDF] [APJ Study] [Rubrics] [Bridge Toolkit]
  • Panel discussion on graduate admissions criteria, outcomes, and diversity: Prof. Adam Burgasser (UC San Diego), Prof. John Johnson (Harvard U.), Prof. Heather Morrison (Case Western University), Prof. Greg Walton (Stanford University), representatives from the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and NSF.
  • Extra! Slides from Brent Bridgeman (Educational Testing Service): "Reducing Bias in the Admissions Process"

About the CSMA

The Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy (CSMA) is a standing committee of the American Astronomical Society. The mission of the CSMA is to enhance the participation of underrepresented minorities in astronomy at all levels of experience. Learn more about the CSMA, what we do, and how to get involved.