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.
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.
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.”
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.
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