6 October 2022

Update from the AAS Committee for the Status of Women in Astronomy

Jeremy Bailin University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa

The Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy (CSWA) was established in 1979 with the charge to recommend to the Council (now the Board of Trustees) practical measures that the AAS can take to improve the status of women in astronomy and encourage their entry into this field. We define “women” as people who identify as female, including trans women, genderqueer women, and nonbinary people who are significantly female-identified, and include women with multiple, intersectional identities, including race, ethnicity, class, disability, and more.

CSWA publishes a blog, Women In Astronomy, containing original and cross-posted articles posted (approximately) weekly. Some of the most-read posts within the past year have been interviews with Dr. Nipuni Palliyaguru of Texas Tech, Dr. Moiya McTier, astrophysicist and folklorist, and Drs. Rachael Beaton and Amy Jones from the Committee On INclusiveness in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. We also produce the AASWomen email newsletter, which goes out to approximately 1,200 subscribers each Friday, containing cross-posts of the CSWA’s blog, other information about the CSWA, and contributions from the community (such as requests for and responses to information and/or advice, links to news items about women in science, announcements of honors and awards given to women in science, information about upcoming programs and meetings, and links to internship and job opportunities).

As part of the CSWA's Strategic Plan, we are undertaking a number of projects within the focus areas of Harassment & Bullying, Creating Inclusive Environments for an Ethical Workplace, Professional Development, and CSWA Operations and Interactions. A group of current and past CSWA members is writing a series of papers that present the results of a large community survey conducted in 2019. The first paper details the background of the project, the methods, and the quantitative and qualitative survey data. The second paper presents the recommendations that the authors are making to the AAS. Our goal is to submit both of these papers to the Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society by the end of 2022. A demographic survey of PhD-granting astronomy departments has been distributed to the community and results are being compiled. We are working with AAS prize committees to determine how prizes are awarded, to perform a demographic analysis of past prize submissions and selections, and to improve the process to make it more equitable. We have conducted an analysis of the demographics of AAS press conferences; the results are currently being written up. In the past, the CSWA has co-organized the AAS participation in the annual Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science and National Society of Black Physicists meetings, and we are working to more closely coordinate with Mildred Peyton, AAS’s new DEI Committee Support Specialist, and the other AAS inclusion committees (CSMA, SGMA, and WGAD). The CSWA also represents the AAS in the STEM Equity Achievement Change initiative sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Please reach out to your CSWA committee members if you would like to know more or get involved in the initiatives we have planned.