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Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy

Courtney Morrow, WKU Class of 2012
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(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
    [PDF]
  • Presentation by William Sedlacek (University of Maryland): "Why Doesn't The GRE or GPA Work in Selecting Graduate Students & What Alternatives Are There?"
    [PDF]
  • 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"
    [PDF]



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.